Wikipedia: Ronald Reagan > Early political career
In the early 1960s Reagan opposed certain civil rights legislation, saying that "if an individual wants to discriminate against Negroes or others in selling or renting his house, it is his right to do so." In his rationale, he cited his opposition to government intrusion into personal freedoms, as opposed to racism; he strongly denied having racist motives and later reversed his opposition to voting rights and fair housing laws. When legislation that would become Medicare was introduced in 1961, Reagan created a recording for the American Medical Association warning that such legislation would mean the end of freedom in America. Reagan said that if his listeners did not write letters to prevent it, "we will awake to find that we have socialism. And if you don't do this, and if I don't do it, one of these days, you and I are going to spend our sunset years telling our children, and our children's children, what it once was like in America when men were free."
Wikipedia: Political positions of Ronald Reagan
Reagan did not support federal initiatives to provide blacks with civil rights. He opposed the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965 signed into law by President Lyndon B. Johnson. His opposition was based on his view that certain provisions of both Acts violated the US Constitution and in the case of the 1964 Act, intruded upon the civil rights of business and property owners.
Reagan did not consider himself a racist, and dismissed any attacks aimed at him relating to racism as attacks on his personal character and integrity. He claimed his opposition to certain federal government civil rights acts were not because he was racist, but because he believed in states rights.
Although critics claim that Reagan gave a States' Rights speech, also known as Reagan's Neshoba County Fair "states' rights" speech,  in Philadelphia, Mississippi, the town where three civil rights workers were murdered in 1964, when running for president in 1980, he actually gave it at the Neshoba County Fair, seven miles away. It was a popular campaigning spot, as presidential candidates John Glenn and Michael Dukakis both campaigned there as well.
He also said (while campaigning in Georgia) that Confederate President Jefferson Davis was "a hero of mine." However, Reagan was offended that some accused him of racism. In 1980 Reagan said the Voting Rights Act was "humiliating to the South," although he later supported extending the Act. He opposed Fair Housing legislation in California (the Rumford Fair Housing Act), but in 1988 signed a law expanding the Fair Housing Act of 1968. Reagan was unsuccessful in trying to veto another civil rights bill in March of the same year. Reagan supported South Africa in spite of apartheid, but yielded to pressure from Congress and his own party. At first Reagan opposed the Martin Luther King holiday, and signed it only after an overwhelming veto-proof majority (338 to 90 in the House of Representatives and 78 to 22 in the Senate) voted in favor of it. Congress overrode Reagan's veto of the Civil Rights Restoration Act of 1988. Reagan said the Restoration Act would impose too many regulations on churches, the private sector and state and local governments.
Side Note: Ronald Reagan also endorsed Barry Goldwater who was against the CRA.
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