March 24, 2023

Essie Mae Washington-Williams, the mixed-race daughter of one-time segregationist Sen. Strom Thurmond who kept her parentage secret for more than 70 years, has died. She was 87.

My name is essie maid washington williams my mother who is now deceased was named kerry butler and she worked for the thurman family i was born in aiken south carolina on october 12th 1925 my father’s name was streams strom thurmond about six months after i was born my aunt essie after whom i was named took me to pennsylvania when her sister mary washington came to

Pennsylvania she took me with her to coatesville a small town near philadelphia she and her husband john washington adopted me they were very good parents to me and for that i will be eternally grateful i attended the public schools in coatesville until i graduated from scott high school following my graduation from high school i enrolled at south carolina state

College upon the recommendation of my father there i majored in business education after my second year in college i met and later married my husband julius williams he was in his second year in the newly open south carolina state college law school he was one of the first graduates from the law school my husband and i were blessed with four wonderful children

All of whom are tremendously successful i have 13 grandchildren and four great-grandchildren their lives and a meaningful and important in american history there are many stories like sally hemings and mind the unfortunate measure is that not everyone knows about these stories that help to make america what it is today when my father became a united states senator

His communication and support continued to me i visit them many times in washington dc all of those on his staff knew exactly who i was his financial support was constant during various stages of my life i knew him beyond his public image i am sure that the question looming here today is why have i waited to come forth my response is throughout his life and mine we

Respected each other i never wanted to do anything to harm him of course detriment to his life or to the lives of those around him my father did a lot of things to help other people even though his public stance appeared opposite as the honorable matthew perry or the young armstrong williams asked many of those persons of color about the real strom thurmond i was

Sensitive about his well-being and career and his family here in south carolina it was only at the urging of my children and senator thermos passing that i decided that my children deserve the right to know from him where and what they have come i am committed and teaching them and helping them to learn about their past it is their right to know and i understand the

Rich history of their ancestry black and white at this juncture in my life i am looking for closer i am not better i am not angry in fact there’s a great sense of peace that has come over me in the past year once i decided that i would no longer harbor such a great secret that many others knew i feel as though h administration estimate that i am se made washington

Williams and at last i feel completely framed

Transcribed from video
Strom Thurmond's Mixed-Race Daughter Dies at 87 By TheBrandNewWorld