Wednesday, July 02, 2003

The Curious Story of Strom Thurmond's Black Daughter

Perhaps its bad taste to point out the inconsistencies of the recently deceased. Still, this is an amazing story: an ardent segregationist sires and supports a mixed-race child:

"If he didn’t exactly claim Essie Mae Williams, neither did he disown her. He gave her money and paid her regular visits (and probably tuition) at the black South Carolina college where she was a “high yaller” sorority girl while he was governor of the state. And in some ways, Williams has played the dutiful daughter, insisting over the long years that Thurmond was merely a “family friend.”

This is a fascinating look at a period when Southern social order allowed a defining constituency to be at once embraced and reviled.

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