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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Aaron Henry, April 2, 1974. Interview A-0107. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

Southern strategy seeks to reverse gains for blacks

Henry describes how he sees the so-called southern strategy. Henry views it as a reversal of the gains of the 1960s, characterized by a responsiveness to whites' demands over those of blacks and an unresponsiveness to need.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with Aaron Henry, April 2, 1974. Interview A-0107. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) in the Southern Oral History Program Collection, Southern Historical Collection, Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Full Text of the Excerpt

JACK BASS:
I want to ask you one last question. What does the term southern strategy mean to you?
AARON HENRY:
Well, the term southern strategy, to me, as it is personified by Mr Nixon, really means the reversal of the new society philosophies that Lyndon Johnson, after John Fitzgerald Kennedy was assassinated, was able to get through. I think that Nixon would like to see us go back as far as we can toward the days when segregation was a rule of thumb rather than where we are now where it is considered a situation of oddity. And the southern strategy merely means that the leadership of the country is going to be more responsive to the white community than it is to the black community. That the assistances that once were available to blacks. . . . You see, blacks have lost in the last ten years. We've lost the presidency where at one time we could, you know, call Lyndon or John Fitzgerald's private number any time of night. We had a Justice Department that was run by Bobby Kennedy, Katzenbach, Ramsey Clark, John Dorr [?], that you could find anywhere. We had the United States Supreme Court that many of us had no problem about going to jail anywhere because there was a Supreme Court in Washington. Well, the Supreme Court in Washington now is no guarantee that justice is going to prevail. There is a guarantee that what Mr Nixon desires is going to prevail. Not necessarily justice. And with the Congress of the United States, there was a time when we passed the 1957 Civil Rights Act; we passed the 1960 Civil Rights Act; we passed the 1964 Public Accommodations Act, the 1965 Voter Rights Act; we passed the public housing bill; we passed OEO; we passed medicaid; we passed medicare; we passed federal aid to education; we passed the minimum wage. But now the federal government has in a way told us, what you got is what you're going to get. That we're not about to pass any more additional legislation to make life for the minorities and for the poor people easier in this country. And this is really where I feel that the southern strategy as espoused by Mr Nixon really takes root and this is really what it means.