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Description - Nixon's Civil Rights by Dean J. Kotlowski

Richard Nixon believed that history would show his administration in the forefront of civil rights progress. What does the record really say about civil rights under Nixon? In this book, Dean Kotlowski offers a study of an administration that redirected the course of civil rights in America. Nixon's policymaking recast the civil rights debate from an argument over racial integration to an effort to improve the economic station of disadvantaged groups. Kotlowski examines such issues as school desegregation, fair housing, voting rights, affirmative action, and minority businesses as well as Native American and women's rights. He details Nixon's role, revealing a president who favoured deeds over rhetoric and who constantly weighed political expediency and principles in crafting civil rights policy. In moving the debate from the street to the system, Nixon set civil rights on a path whose merits and results are still debated.

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Book Details

ISBN: 9780674006232
ISBN-10: 0674006232
Format: Hardback
(235mm x 155mm x 34mm)
Pages: 416
Imprint: Harvard University Press
Publisher: Harvard University Press
Publish Date: 2-Jan-2002
Country of Publication: United States

Book Reviews - Nixon's Civil Rights by Dean J. Kotlowski

US Kirkus Review » A capable dissection of the Nixon administration's policies on such matters as affirmative action and housing integration, charting failures and successes alike. According to Richard Nixon, writes Kotlowski (History/Salisbury State Univ.), "once blacks became educated and entered skilled trades or professions or opened businesses, they would be able to purchase homes in suburbs." The president's thinking on matters of civil rights was seldom more complex than that, and he was motivated more by political expediency than a concern for social justice. Even so, as Kotlowski demonstrates, and even against the opposition of close advisors such as Charles Colson ("a bigot and crass opportunist"), Nixon's lieutenants managed to push through meaningful reforms in civil rights legislation and federal policy, most notably an aggressive program of affirmative action that ignited a firestorm of controversy. Kotlowski leaves little doubt that Nixon was in his heart a racist, but his pragmatic approach to politics and professional survival drove him to set aside his own inclinations, stand up to the Republican Party's archconservative Southern wing, and endorse reform. In taking such actions as increasing funds for the Equal Opportunity Employment Commission, Kotlowski wryly observes, "Nixon's motives were not entirely high-minded, since he saw hiking the budget as a way to improve his 'image' with minorities and liberals." But whatever the motivation, the author insists, Nixon's policies "helped minorities enter the middle class" and broadened federal concern to include other minorities such as Mexican Americans and Native Americans. Though these policies failed in other realms, checkered success, Kotlowski suggests, is better than no success at all; as civil rights activist Roger Wilkins observes in the closing pages, "looked at through the prism of the Reagan Administration, the Nixon civil rights record does not look as bad today as it did in 1971, '72, and '73." Of considerable interest to students of contemporary history, race relations, and federal policy. (Kirkus Reviews)

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Author Biography - Dean J. Kotlowski

Dean J. Kotlowski is Associate Professor of History at Salisbury University.

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