“‘Worth a Lot of Negro Votes’”: Black Voters, Africa, and the 1960 Presidential Campaign

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The Emergence of Africa: Report to President Eisenhower by Vice President Nixon

by Richard Nixon

Vice President of the United States

On the basis of my visits to Morocco, Ghana, Liberia, Uganda, Ethiopia, Sudan, Libya, Italy, and Tunisia, from February 28 to March 21, I submit the following observations and recommendations:

Importance of Africa

No one can travel in Africa, even as briefly as I did, without realizing the tremendous potentialities of this great continent. Africa is the most rapidly changing area in the world today The course of its development, as its people continue to emerge from a colonial status and assume the responsibilities of independence and self-governement, could well prove to be the decisive factor in the conflict between the forces of freedom and international communism.

The great question which is presented to the leaders of Africa is whether they can attain these justifiable objectives and at the same time maintain and develop governmental institutions which are based on principles of freedom and democracy. I believe they all are convinced that they can, and that the Free World has a vital interest in assisting them to do so. For the success or failure of these new members of the family of nations to realize their aspirations in this manner will have profound effects upon the development of Africa and on the world in the years to come. . . .

Effect of Discrimination in U.S. on African Attitudes

As a result of skillful propaganda primarily inspired by the enemies of freedom, a consistently distorted picture of the treatment of minority races in the United States is being effectively presented in the countries I visited. Every instance of prejudice in this country is blown up in such a manner as to create a completely false impression of the attitudes and practices of the great majority of the American people. The result is irreparable damage to the cause of freedom which is at stake.


We must continue to strike at the roots of this problem. We cannot talk equality to the peoples of Africa and Asia and practice inequality in the United States. In the national interest, as well as for the moral issues involved, we must support the necessary steps which will assure orderly progress toward the elimination of discrimination in the United States. And we should do a far more effective job than we are presently doing in telling the true story of the real progress that is being made toward realizing this objective so that the people of Africa will have a true picture of conditions as they really are in the United States.


Africa is a priority target for the international communist movement. I gathered the distinct impression that the communist leaders consider Africa today to be as important to their designs for world conquest as they considered China to be twenty-five years ago. Consequently, the are mounting a diplomatic propaganda and economic offensive in all parts of the continent. They are trying desperately to convince the peoples of Africa that they support more strongly than we do their natural aspirations for independence, equality and economic progress.

Fortunately, their efforts thus far have not been generally successful and, for the present, communist domination in the states of the area is not a present danger. All of the African leaders to whom I talked are determined to maintain their independence against communism or any other form of foreign domination. They have taken steps to bring under control the problem of communist subversion of their political, economic and social life. It would be a great mistake, however, to be complacent about his situation because the Communists are without question putting their top men in the fields of diplomacy, intrigue, and subversion into the African area to probe for the openings which they can exploit for their own selfish and disruptive ends.


The communist threat underlines the wisdom and necessity of our assisting the countries of Africa to maintain their independence and to alleviate the conditions of want and in stability on which communism breeds. the importance of Africa to the strength and stability of the Free World is too great for us to underestimate or to become complacent about this danger without taking every step within our power to assist the countries of this area to maintain their effective independence in the face of this danger.

“The Emergence of Africa: Report to President Eisenhower,” Richard Nixon, State Department Bulletin, April 22, 1957, p. 635–38