In 2002, on this day at Capital Hill the Washington elite paid tribute to Strom Thurmond on occasion of the former US President's hundredth birthday.
Dark warning of a problem avoided"I want to say this about my state: When Strom Thurmond ran for president, we voted for him. We're proud of it. And because the rest of the country followed our lead, we didn't suffer all those problems over all these years, either". Trent Lott said at the party. " The Senate Minority Leader was of course making reference to "those problems" articulated with chilling clarity in a 1948 campaign speech in which Thurmond had said "I wanna tell you, ladies and gentlemen, that there's not enough troops in the army to force the Southern people to break down segregation and admit the n-
expletive race into our theaters, into our swimming pools, into our homes, and into our churches".
Thurmond was not alone in voicing the concerns of white supremacists. Because events in South Africa were moving very much in the same direction with the implementation of apartheid following the National Party's victory at the 1948 election. And on a subsequent state visit to Washington, Prime Minister Daniel Malan would find in Thurmond an American politican with a markedly similiar outlook on segregation. Both politicans viewed history through the prism of the 1915 movie Birth of a Nation Click to watch the trailer of Birth of a Nation with events since reconstruction threatening the status quo, secured only by the activities of loyalists such as the Klan.
The party included an unexpected guest named Essie Mae Washington-Williams and it would be fair to say that some discordant views were expressed. Whilst Thurmond might not welcome the so-called n-
expletive race in white people's theaters, swimming pools, homes and churches it would appear that he did not exclude them from the bedroom. Because 78-year old Washington-Williams publicly revealed that she was Thurmond's daughter, born to a black maid, Carrie "Tunch" Butler (pictured) when Butler was 16 and Thurmond was 22. At the time of Washington-Williams's conception, Carrie was only 15 years old, leading many to believe that she was a victim of statutory rape by Thurmond in the least.
After Thurmond's death in 2003 the whole truth would emerge. Thurmond only agreed to meet Washington-Williams when she was 16. He helped pay her way through college and later paid her sums of money in cash or, through a nephew, checks. Though Thurmond never publicly acknowledged Washington-Williams when he was alive, he continued to support her financially. These payments extended well into her adult life. Washington-Williams has stated that she had not previously revealed she was Thurmond's daughter during his lifetime because it "wasn't to the advantage of either one of us" The Thurmond family publicly acknowledged her parentage. Many close friends and staff members had long suspected this to have been the case, stating that Thurmond had always taken a great amount of interest in Washington-Williams and that she was granted a degree of access to the former President more appropriate to a family member than to a member of the public.