Strom Thurmond’s mixed-race daughter dies at 87

COLUMBIA, S.C. — The mixed-race daughter of the late U.S. Sen. Strom Thurmond who kept her parentage secret for more than 70 years to avoid damaging his political career has died. Essie Mae Washington-Williams was 87.

Vann Dozier of Leevy’s Funeral Home in Columbia said Washington-Williams died Monday. A cause of death wasn’t given.

Washington-Williams was the daughter of the one-time segregationist and his family’s black maid.

There had been rumors for decades in political circles and the black community that Thurmond had fathered a daughter by a black woman. But Washington-Williams did not come forward and identify Thurmond as her father until after his death at age 100 in 2003.

Washington-Williams spent decades as a school teacher in Los Angeles. Thurmond was South Carolina’s governor and for a time was the nation’s longest-serving U.S. senator.

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