Strom Thurmond’s biracial daughter has died

It takes a special kind of person to father a black child and then go on to become a very successful professional bigot, but the South was filled with them back in the day.

Essie Mae Washington Williams, daughter of late South Carolina Sen. Strom Thurmond, has died.  Thurmond who spent much of his long political career as an arch-segregationist, never publicly acknowledged his “other” daughter’s existence during his lifetime.  Thurmond, who even ran as a third-party Dixiecrat in 1948 to combat President Harry S. Truman’s liberal policies, is regarded as one of the founding fathers of the South’s modern-day GOP.  He died in 2003 at the age of 100.

I saw Strom Thurmond once, in the summer of 2001. I was with Judy and the kinds on vacation in Washington, DC in the basement of the Capitol complex (pre-911 security was lax), and an aide was holding the 98-year-old senator’s arm. Apparently, he was having a good day, because it only took one aide to assist him while walking. He moved very slowly. We got into the tram and we were the only ones in the car. The driver, a black woman, said, “Did you see that man? That was Sen. Strom Thurmond. And he tired to hit on me.” This was before anyone knew about Ms. Williams.

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