Essie Mae Washington-Williams, the lovechild of Senator Strom Thurmond and his former black maid, has passed away at age 87. Washington-Williams kept her father’s secret for 70 years. She revealed his identity after Thurmond died in 2003. The former South Carolina governor was a known segregationist and the longest serving senator in U.S. history.
Essie Mae Washington-Williams was a retired educator who was raised by her mother, Carrie Butler, until Butler died at age 38. She was sent to her aunt and uncle, Mr. John and Mary Washington, in Coatesville, Pa. The young mixed-race child didn’t even know that her mother was Carrie Butler until the age of 13. She was later told that she was of mixed-race and that her white father was Strom Thurmond.
Thurmond was in his 20’s when he became close to Carrie Butler, who was a young teenager, working as the household maid. Upon learning that his daughter knew of his identity, Thurmond met with Washington-Williams and sent her $200. Although her father’s identity was not publicly known, Thurmond continued to contribute to his daughter financially and met with her in secret over his lifetime. However, in 1948, the same year that Carrie Butler passed away, Strom Thurmond built his segregationist political platform, denouncing integration of the black and white community.
Washington-Williams says that those who worked in the Thurmond home knew of her existence and family lineage. Even though Thurmond helped her with occasional finances, met with her at her HBCU, and sent a letter of recommendation for her son to attend medical school, he barely acknowledged a Father’s Day card.
During a news conference on Dec. 17, 2003, Washington-Williams revealed her father’s identity. She claimed to have waited until after his death to spare his family and political career. She also wanted her own children to know their family lineage.
Washington-Williams was well educated, receiving a bachelor’s degree from USC and an honorary Doctorate from South Carolina State University. Once her secret was revealed, her name was added to a monument at the South Carolina State House listing the children of Strom Thurmond. Washington-Williams chronicled her story in the book entitled, “Dear Senator: A Memoir by the Daughter of Strom Thurmond”, which was published in 2005.
Essie Mae Washington-Williams was laid to rest at the Brookland Baptist Church on Saturday, February 9, 2013.
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This Week’s Celebrity Instagrams (10/15-10/21)
31 photos Launch gallery
1. Just a NY girl with BIG dreams....
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2. HAPPY CHILDREN=QUALITY PARENTING. We don't always see eye to eye on everything and that's normal. We're human beings. But we come together and do it right for what's important, the kids. We are not enemies, we are parents. And we are parents 1st. S/O to @monyettashaw for making Mason's bday memorable. S/O to @itscrystalsmith at home taking care of our other lil' Prince. ❤️❤️❤️ THIS IS WHAT CO-PARENTING LOOKS LIKE. #Blessed #Happy #AboveTheDrama #BiggerThanUs
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3. So happy to finally be able to share with you all that I’m the new Global Brand Ambassador for @Revlon! Follow my day on RevlonSnaps. Yay! Choose Love, Everybody! #RevlonXCiara #chooselove #ad
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4. Glam on point!!!@makeupbymotoko & @shaylinjoneshair #easybreezy @lifetimetv #beachesmovie #january2017 😘
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5. ✨True love ✨📸: @jessiemarrerophotography
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7. Today was not easy..but by the grace of God we all got through it. Words cannot express our gratitude for all of your Prayers, Positive thoughts and Support for us throughout the years. Tommy will be missed but most certainly never forgotten...And PLEASE don't ask "Where's Martin?.." he was there too...just not in this picture. Lol! God bless you all.. #LoveConquersAll #MartinShow
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9. West coast get ready for #RockyHorror. I will be live tweeting again. #letsdothetimewarpagain
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10. #THEKEYS pre order yours now ... Available everywhere #NOV22 #WeTheBest 🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑
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11. We about to ROCK at #KCABlackBall!! All for our life-changing effort to end 🌎 AIDS.
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12. Today's #SNAPJACK is brought to you by @yazzthegreatest 😂😂😂💋💋💋
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13. Damn girl you kinda old to be headed to the Go Go. You coming in at the age they leaving. LMAO
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14. Daddy daycare B-Boxin with @acewellstucker @shopraisingace
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15. #FBF Naviyd & URV "LIL MONSTERS"
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16. HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO ONE OF THE BIGGEST LEGENDS IN OUR HIPHOP HISTORY! @snoopdogg CONTINUED BLESSING AND LOVE FAMILY!!!!! REAL OG!
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17. Thank you for a beautiful night VSU! Let's do it again! #HOMECOMING
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18. Had a great time this morning with my familia Erica, Griff & Truth!!
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19. Check out my interview on @essence facebook live. #inmyownwords #nycpromo #day2
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20. #She💋 #tbt #TheCoveAtTheAtlantis #DawgPawsAndAll
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21. Bae #retailtherapy
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22. Why me and @coryhardrict got the same pose... and notee... new mouth #naked
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23. When my husband is my personal 'hype-man'! it kills me every time! 💜😂 #WHATNOW #lostfiles📷
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24. Diggy Simmons
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25. Hand full of @jacquieaiche 💙💎💍 @esnail_la 💅🏾
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27. 💋 .. When the friendship is easy like Sunday morning. ☀️
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28. Sunday mornings are the best........... hugs and cuddles with my angel
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29. #huggar16 #hellohuggars
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30. My gym is everywhere!.. #RnBMoney #TheGeneral 📸: @twelvepastseven
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31. Nothing I would rather be doing... Rocko setting up our movie, Romelō working on a puzzle & Laiyah singing and sharing all she's learning at school... I'm so grateful for the joy they've brought into my life ... Praying for peace , joy & love in the home of EVERY family ♥️ #HeadScarfPJSunday LOL 😂
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