Well, it looks like the 20 year old rumor can finally be laid to rest, in the “true” column. A 78 year old African American woman in California has broken her silence to claim the late Senator Strom Thurmond as her father.
OK…. and this is news because …?
Seriously though, Thurmond wouldn’t have been the first old racist white man to have bedded down with or “taken” a black woman and end up fathering a child. Details about the nature of the relatioship between Thurmond and Essie Mae’s mother aren’t clear, except that she worked as a domestic in the Thurmond household.
Essie Mae was born Oct. 12, 1925, to a 16-year-old, unmarried mother, Carrie Butler, who cleaned house in the Thurmonds’ grand two-story home on the outskirts of Edgefield, S.C. Butler’s neighbors along the unpaved road in the impoverished section of Edgefield helped feed and clothe the child, according to interviews with local residents. Strictly segregated, Edgefield still basked in Civil War pride. Virtually every white male had left town to join the rebel cause.
It’s interesting that Thurmond met often with Essie Mae Williams during his long career, often while he was in the midst of running a segregationist campaign, or fighting civil rights bills in the Senate.
Oh well, it’s just another old, old story that reflects the long-lived schizophrenic nature of race relations, not just in the South, but in the country as a whole.