Sammy Davis Jr. Hugs Richard M. Nixon (1972)


Sammy Davis Jr. was performing at a Republican Youth Rally in Miami, Florida. President Richard M. Nixon was present at the event. When he walked on stage, Sammy Davis gave him a hug. This was very ironic considering President Nixon’s open race prejudice. Prior to the election of 1972, Davis was invited to the White House. He also was given a position on the National Council on Economic Opportunity. This support for a conservative president seemed rather odd for a person who fought for civil rights and anti-poverty programs. There may have been some tactical reasoning behind Sammy Davis Jr. ‘s  support and attempts at dialogue with President Nixon. Davis thought he could influence and convince the president to stop reducing funds for anti-poverty programs and job training. Richard M. Nixon wanted a notable celebrity to support him to improve his public image. Sammy Davis Jr.  was a popular singer and entertainer who could help with Nixon’s reelection. Some in the African American community criticized Sammy Davis Jr.’s endorsement. The release of the Nixon tapes and the exposure of the Watergate scandal caused the downfall of the administration. Sammy Davis Jr. later regretted supporting Richard M. Nixon. Unlike Richard M. Nixon, Sammy Davis Jr.’s reputation remained intact.


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