Precinct 333

Monday, June 28, 2004

Giving Miss Essie her due.

I've always been ambivalent about Strom Thurmond. I think that is true of most Americans. After all, here was a man who was an arch-segregationist, who filibustered much of the leading civil rights legislation of the 1950s and 1960s (he went nearly 24 hours on one bill -- we should make the Hildebeast do the same on judicial nominations) who later became a supporter of equal opportunity. Here is a man who should have been political toast after the Dixiecrat fiasco, but who went on to serve close to five decades in Washington aftewards, and who died something f a beloved institution (Trent Lott not withstanding).

But not long ago we found out about the skeleton in his closet -- an illegitimate daughter, fathered on a 16 year old black maid some eight decades ago. Essie Mae Washington-Williams held her piece for decades, living in the shadows of the world where such children existed for generations. Out of loyalty for a father who provided opportunities for her when and as he could, but who never publicly acknowledged her existance, she kept the secret of his youthful indiscretion through times when she could have literally destroyed him and only came forward after his death.

And now she will be added to his monument in the South Carolina capitol -- assuming her rightful place in the public eye as his eldest child. It is fitting and proper.

God bless you, Miss Essie.


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