Strom Thurmond's family has acknowledged that the late senator and one-time segregationist is the father of "Essie Mae Washington-Williams, a Los Angeles woman whose black mother worked as a maid in Thurmond's parents' home as a teen-ager," as Reuters reports.
Thurmond is hardly the only nationally elected official to father illegitimate children–think of Dan Burton of Indiana, who famously called President Clinton a "scumbag"–and to his credit, he apparently supported Washington-Williams financially. Yet his political behavior was always disturbing and the years he spent trying to keep blacks down is made even more grotesque in light of the news.
Around the time of his death, Thurmond came in for all the testimonials that even loathsome characters (e.g, Nixon and, in the near future, Sen. Robert Byrd) get if they stick around long enough. Among the things Thurmond got credit for was "growing" on the race issue to the point that he even shoveled political pork to black areas of South Carolina. Too bad he didn't step forward when he could have with a revelation that would have radically altered race relations in America at a point in time when blacks, especially in the South, were still frequent targets of racially motivated violence and segregation.
Has anyone interviewed Trent Lott for a reaction? Does his high opinion of the old Thurmond still hold?