Rankings of presidential leadership based on retrospective surveys of experts are a staple of the literature on American politics. We develop an alternative method – the editorial opinion score (EOS) – for ranking the leadership of the modern presidents based on content analyses of editorials published in African-American newspapers between 1901 and 2016. The advantage of the EOS method over retrospective surveys is that it provides real-time evaluations of presidential leadership over multiple issue areas. We make leadership in the areas of civil rights policy and race relations the key component of our ranking of the modern presidents. Finally, we use regression analyses to determine the contextual factors shape editorial opinions of presidential leadership in these areas. The end result of our analyses is a significant reordering of extant presidential rankings.