Warning

 

Close

Confirm Action

Are you sure you wish to do this?

Confirm Cancel
Member Login
Posted: 12/14/2003 11:28:18 AM EDT
Woman Says She's Strom Thurmond's Child

By JEREMIAH MARQUEZ, Associated Press Writer

LOS ANGELES - A 78-year-old retired schoolteacher is coming forward after years of silence to claim she is the illegitimate mixed-race daughter of the late Sen. Strom Thurmond, her attorney said Saturday.

Essie Mae Washington-Williams, who lives in Los Angeles, had long been rumored to be the daughter of the one-time segregationist, who died June 26 at the age of 100. She is coming forward now at the urging and encouragement of her children, attorney Frank K. Wheaton said.

"She's decided to come forward to bring some closure to what has been thought to be an old family secret," Wheaton told The Associated Press.

"We're not trying to upset the Thurmond estate. We are merely bringing closure to Essie Mae's life, so her children have an opportunity to know from where they come, whether those ancestors are black or white matters not. It is part of our American history."

Williams told The Washington Post that Thurmond privately acknowledged her as his daughter and had provided financial support since 1941. The Post first reported her claims on its Web site Saturday.

Williams, who has scheduled a news conference in Columbia, S.C., on Wednesday, previously denied rumors that Thurmond, the nation's oldest and longest-serving senator, was her father.

"There was an agreement between the parties that she would never discuss the fact that Sen. Thurmond was her father," another of Williams' attorneys, Glenn Walters, told The AP. "He never denied that Ms. Washington-Williams was his daughter."

Walters said Williams was not seeking money and did not want to challenge Thurmond's will: "She simply wants the truth about her life to be told."

Those close to Thurmond said they were unsure about Williams' claim.

"I really don't know anything about that story, so you'll need to talk to someone else," said Thurmond's widow, Nancy Moore Thurmond. The couple separated in 1991.

"I certainly have no answer one way or the other," said Bettis Rainsford, a longtime family friend. "I'm sure the senator may have sowed some wild oats in his early days, but certainly I have no information about that."

Doris Strom Costner, a distant cousin of Thurmond's, said she doesn't think the claim is true.

"I don't appreciate anyone coming forth after he's dead, you know? It doesn't make good sense," Costner said.

Williams told the Post she waited until now to go public with her story because she didn't want to embarrass herself or hurt Thurmond's career.

"I want to bring closure to this," she said. "It is a part of history."

In seven decades of politics, Thurmond gained fame and infamy as an arch-segregationist, but he later came to support a holiday for the slain civil rights leader Martin Luther King.

Williams claims Thurmond fathered her long before his political career started, when he was a 22-year-old living in his parents' home in Edgefield, S.C. Her mother, then 16, had been working as a maid in the Thurmonds' home.

If challenged by the Thurmond family, Williams is ready to submit to DNA tests, Wheaton said.

Williams said she has documents to validate her claim, including cashier's check stubs, mementos from Thurmond and a letter from an intermediary who delivered money from the senator. She provided the Post with a copy of a 1998 Thurmond letter thanking her "for the nice Father's Day note you sent me."

She told the newspaper she received money at least once a year in sessions arranged by Thurmond's Senate staff. In recent years, as the senator's health declined, she said, financial assistance was passed through a Thurmond relative in South Carolina.

Wheaton said the amount of money Thurmond provided over the years was "a very substantial amount" but less than $1 million.

Williams' mother, Carrie Butler, was unmarried when she gave birth to her in 1925. Butler's neighbors in the impoverished section of Edgefield helped feed and clothe the child, according to Post interviews with local residents.

Butler's sister, Essie, took the child when she was 6 months old to live with a married aunt, Mary Washington, in Coatesville, Pa., a Philadelphia suburb.

Williams told the Post she first met Thurmond around 1941, when she returned to Edgefield for a visit at age 16. Her mother was suffering from an untreatable kidney disease and insisted on introducing her to her father, Williams said.

In a meeting lasting 20 to 30 minutes, Williams said, Thurmond called her a "very lovely daughter."

"I was very happy. I knew I had a father somewhere, and it was wonderful to meet him."

Williams claims she had another conversation with Thurmond in 1947, when he was governor of South Carolina and a year away from running for president on a Dixiecrat platform of segregation.

"He asked her directly, 'How does it feel to be the daughter of the governor and not be able to tell anyone about it?'" Wheaton said. "She said it felt fine."



story.news.yahoo.com/news?tmpl=story&u=/ap/20031214/ap_on_re_us/thurmond_paternity_6
Link Posted: 12/14/2003 11:30:18 AM EDT
why does this not surprise me.....
Link Posted: 12/14/2003 11:31:49 AM EDT
So is she bragging or complaining ?
Link Posted: 12/14/2003 11:37:34 AM EDT
first thing I thought of is....what people to get famous and rich.... Not saying that's what she's doing, but it could look like that.
Link Posted: 12/14/2003 11:45:04 AM EDT
Originally Posted By xj9598: first thing I thought of is....what people to get famous and rich.... Not saying that's what she's doing, but it could look like that.
View Quote
or she could just be a bit peeved that her own father is/was a racist, a hypocrite, and refused to acknowledge her very existance. I could see where that could be an issue with someone.
Link Posted: 12/14/2003 11:55:12 AM EDT
You think that I don't feel love But what I feel for you is real love In other's eyes I see reflected A hurt, scorned, rejected Love child, never meant to be Love child, born in poverty Love child, never meant to be Love child, take a look at me I started my life in an old, cold run down tenement slum My father left, he never even married mom I shared the guilt my mama knew So afraid that others knew I had no name This love we're contemplating Isn't worth the pain of waiting We'll only end up hating The child we maybe creating Love child, never meant to be Love child, (scorned by) society Love child, always second best Love child, different from the rest Mm, baby (hold on, hold on, just a little bit) Mm, baby (hold on, hold on, just a little bit) I started school, in a worn, torn dress that somebody threw out I knew the way it felt, to always live in doubt To be without the simple things So afraid my friends would see the guilt in me Don't think that I don't need you Don't think I don't wanna please you No child of mine'll be bearing The name of shame I've been wearing Love child, love child, never quite as good Afraid, ashamed, misunderstood But I'll always love you I'll always love you I'll always love you I'll always love you I'll always love you I'll always love you
Link Posted: 12/14/2003 12:16:20 PM EDT
Ah yes, the Dixiecrat.... a southerner that will screw a black person but doesn't want his kids going to school with them.... Lovely, just lovely. -HS
Link Posted: 12/14/2003 12:17:19 PM EDT
first thing I thought of is....what people to get famous and rich.... Not saying that's what she's doing, but it could look like that.
View Quote
This has been an open secret for many years.
or she could just be a bit peeved that her own father is/was a racist, a hypocrite, and refused to acknowledge her very existance.
View Quote
While he did not give her his name to be fair he did give her financial support. Considering the time frame this occurred in 1928 he could have just called her mother a liar and that would have been as far as she got. It is easy to make 2004 moral condemnations and ignore the 1928 reality. A lot of people would like to think they would have done better in his place… but given the 1928 SC real world would they really. And to be fair to Thurmond I believe he was the first Senator to have blacks on his congressional staff. Thurmond while not perfect is not the man many think him to be… compare him say with Robert Byrd.
Link Posted: 12/14/2003 12:24:11 PM EDT
Originally Posted By Max_Mike:
first thing I thought of is....what people to get famous and rich.... Not saying that's what she's doing, but it could look like that.
View Quote
This has been an open secret for many years.
or she could just be a bit peeved that her own father is/was a racist, a hypocrite, and refused to acknowledge her very existance.
View Quote
While he did not give her his name to be fair he did give her financial support. Considering the time frame this occurred in 1928 he could have just called her mother a liar and that would have been as far as she got. It is easy to make 2004 moral condemnations and ignore the 1928 reality. A lot of people would like to think they would have done better in his place… but given the 1928 SC real world would they really. And to be fair to Thurmond I believe he was the first Senator to have blacks on his congressional staff. Thurmond while not perfect is not the man many think him to be… compare him say with Robert Byrd.
View Quote
This is the first time I heard it and I didn't mean to sound judgemental or racist in any way. Its just that in the United States this isn't the first time some one made this type of claim. There was women a little while back that claimed to be a missing girl from Indiana.
Link Posted: 12/14/2003 12:43:28 PM EDT
Originally Posted By Max_Mike: Thurmond while not perfect is not the man many think him to be… compare him say with Robert Byrd.
View Quote
You ain't justa whistling Dixie!!! [^]
Link Posted: 12/14/2003 1:02:47 PM EDT
Didn't many white guys dittle with the black women in those days anyways? Isn't that why alot of southerners are racist because they don't want to admit to the fact that they actually have some african american in them? Sorry just something I have observed living in the south as a northerner. I would bet money its his daughter, don't you remember the thomas jefferson thingy, same deal... If we all knew what illegitimate kids all these politicians had, I bet we wouldn't vote for any of em! I'll bet you also that Bill Clinton has some out there somewhere.....
Link Posted: 12/14/2003 3:58:54 PM EDT
Originally Posted By Blonde_BombShell: Didn't many white guys dittle with the black women in those days anyways? Isn't that why alot of southerners are racist because they don't want to admit to the fact that they actually have some african american in them? Sorry just something I have observed living in the south as a northerner. I would bet money its his daughter, don't you remember the thomas jefferson thingy, same deal... If we all knew what illegitimate kids all these politicians had, I bet we wouldn't vote for any of em! I'll bet you also that Bill Clinton has some out there somewhere.....
View Quote
The time I spent in the South gave me a different perspecive on this. I sort of thought of it as analogous to the whole Catholic priest/little boy issue. It is a very small minority that engage in this sort of activity, but the shear hypocracy of it tends to make it look larger that it actually is.
Link Posted: 12/14/2003 6:36:15 PM EDT
Brown sugar, how come you taste so good?
Link Posted: 12/14/2003 6:52:39 PM EDT
Originally Posted By Jim_Dandy: Brown sugar, how come you taste so good?
View Quote
[lolabove][rofl][lol][rofl2]
Link Posted: 12/14/2003 7:33:48 PM EDT
So?
Top Top