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Ronald Reagan Didn’t Like How Roots Portrayed White People

Submitted by on September 8, 2014 – 4:02 pm2 Comments

A popular historian of the conservative movement has uncovered an interesting and timely tidbit: conservative icon President Ronald Reagan did not like the (near) universally loved TV mini-series Roots. The Great Communicator apparently found the 1977 adaptation of Alex Haley‘s searing account of slavery to be biased in its portrayal of race.

Rick Perlstein uncovered the quote in the Washington Post edition from February 14, 1977, which is available through Lexis Nexis:

 ”Very frankly, I thought the bias of all the good people being one color and all the bad people being another was rather destructive.”

Perlstein posted the quote to Facebook after magazine The Economist was forced to apologize for making a similar criticism of a economic history of slavery. The unnamed reviewer (all Economist articles are anonymous) criticized a Cornell historian’s book The Half Has Never Been Told as subjective, saying “all the blacks in his book are victims, almost all the whites villains.”

Slate writes that it could not find any contemporaneous reaction to Reagan’s comments. It notes, “It’s amazing what you could get away with saying about race, before Twitter.”

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