Former US President Ronald Reagan described African delegates at the UN as “monkeys” in 1971 when he was governor of California in newly released tapes published by the Atlantic.
He made the racist comment on the telephone to then-President Richard Nixon, who infamously recorded all his calls.
The governor was angered that African delegates at the UN had sided against the US in a vote to recognise China and expel Taiwan.
After the vote, members of the Tanzanian delegation had started dancing in the UN General Assembly.
The recording was unearthed by Tim Naftali, a clinical associate professor of history at New York University, who had directed the Nixon Presidential Library, which kept all Mr Nixon’s tapes, from 2007 until 2011.
In his piece in the Atlantic, Naftali explains that the racist exchange was removed from the conversation when it was released in 2000 by the national archives for privacy reasons – Mr Reagan was still alive at the time.
Naftali says following a court order the recordings were ordered to be reviewed: “Reagan’s death, in 2004, eliminated the privacy concerns.