Former President George H.W. Bush, who has been lauded as a man of decency and civility, has a complicated legacy when it comes to race.

He got elected with the help of the infamous Willie Horton ad, widely decried as racist. On the other side of the ledger, he appointed Colin Powell the first black chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. He also picked Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, a black conservative whose views are at odds with those of much of black America.

Rice University historian Douglas Brinkley says Bush was “civil rights-minded” and wanted to see himself as a man “devoid of racism.” But Rice says the reality is that Bush sometimes engaged in racial politics.

The Rev. Jesse Jackson says he considers Bush to have been “a fundamentally fair man.”

Source: The Associated Press