ELIZABETH, N.J. (CBS/AP) — Activists have started a petition to remove former President Ronald Reagan’s name from a New Jersey school following racist remarks unearthed in a recent recording. The petition is calling for Ronald Reagan Academy in Elizabeth to be renamed.
“Since opening its doors in September of 2006, the school that houses 750 students, hasn’t been without its share of controversy, whether it’s the lack of diversity or the actual naming of the school after a president who cut public school funding,” Salaam Ismail, president of the African American Alliance, said in the petition.
Recently, the Nixon Presidential Library released an October 1971 phone conversation between President Richard Nixon and then California Gov. Ronald Reagan. Reagan, in venting his frustration with United Nations delegates who voted against the U.S., dropped some racist language.
“Last night, I tell you, to watch that thing on television as I did,” Reagan said. “To see those, those monkeys from those African countries — damn them, they’re still uncomfortable wearing shoes.”
Nixon began laughing hard.
Reagan would launch his 1980 general election presidential campaign in Mississippi’s Neshoba County — a place where three civil rights activists were murdered in 1964.
Reagan ignored the criticism of his visit and told a cheering crowd of white supporters, “I believe in states’ rights.”
Dozens of people have signed the petition.
Activists say they will attend the Aug. 22 school board meeting to present petitions to change the magnet school’s name.
(© Copyright 2019 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)