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Beyond Slavery pp 213-228 | Cite as

Breaking the Silence: Sexual Hypocrisies from Thomas Jefferson to Strom Thurmond

  • Catherine Clinton
Chapter
Part of the Black Religion/Womanist Thought/Social Justice book series

Abstract

A few months after the death of one of the most infamous political champions of racial segregation in U.S. history, the American public was mesmerized when a soft-spoken seventy-eight-year-old black woman stood before cameras in December 2003 to announce that she was Strom Thurmond’s daughter. Thurmond’s heirs responded with the following statement: “The Thurmond family acknowledges Ms. Essie Mae Washington-Williams’s claim to her heritage.” Political mudslinging over allegations of interracial sex date back to the earliest days of the republic, but Ms. Washington-Williams provides a perspective rarely heard publicly: that of a member of a so-called shadow family. “It’s a part of history,” she said. “It’s a story that needs to be known. And so this is why I decided to come out and talk about it. And to bring closure to all of this.”1

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Notes

  1. 1.
    Essie Mae Washington-Williams, interviewed by Dan Rather, 60 Minutes II, CBS News, December 17, 2003, http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2003/12/17/60II/main589138.shtml (accessed November 7, 2008). See also Washington-Williams’s autobiography with William Stadiem, Dear Senator: A Memoir by the Daughter of Strom Thurmond (New York: HarperCollins, 2005).Google Scholar
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Copyright information

© Bernadette J. Brooten 2010

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  • Catherine Clinton

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