Dear Senator by Essie Mae Washington-Williams
A Memoir by the Daughter of Strom Thurmond

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Synopsis

Breaking nearly eight decades of silence, Essie Mae Washington–Williams comes forward with a story of unique historical magnitude and incredible human drama. Her father, the late Strom Thurmond, was once the nation's leading voice for racial segregation (one of his signature political achievements was his 24–hour filibuster against the Civil Rights Act of 1957, done in the name of saving the South from "mongrelization"). Her mother, however, was a black teenager named Carrie Butler who worked as a maid on the Thurmond family's South Carolina plantation.

Set against the explosively changing times of the civil rights movement, this poignant memoir recalls how she struggled with the discrepancy between the father she knew–one who was financially generous, supportive of her education, even affectionate–and the Old Southern politician, railing against greater racial equality, who refused to acknowledge her publicly. From her richly told narrative, as well as the letters she and Thurmond wrote to each other over the years, emerges a nuanced, fascinating portrait of a father who counseled his daughter about her dreams and goals, and supported her in reaching them–but who was unwilling to break with the values of his Dixiecrat constituents.

With elegance, dignity, and candor, Washington–Williams gives us a chapter of American history as it has never been written before–told in a voice that will be heard and cherished by future generations.

 

About Essie Mae Washington-Williams

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Essie Mae Washington-Williams worked as a teacher in the Los Angeles school district for twenty-seven years. The mother of four children, grandmother of thirteen, and great-grandmother of four, she lives in Los Angeles. William Stadiem is the coauthor of the "New York Times" bestsellers "Mr. S" and "Marilyn Monroe Confidential.
 
Published October 13, 2009 by HarperCollins e-books. 240 pages
Genres: Biographies & Memoirs, History, Political & Social Sciences. Non-fiction

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The New York Times

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("A man, I thought, could love only one woman, and that woman for Strom Thurmond could have been my mother.") For reasons perhaps not unrelated to Senator Thurmond's record on race, the very word "mistress" made Essie Mae think of Adolf Hitler and Eva Braun.

Jan 17 2005 | Read Full Review of Dear Senator: A Memoir by the...

Publishers Weekly

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"Every girls wants her daddy," says the recently revealed daughter of an affair between 23-year-old Strom Thurmond and the family's 15-year-old black maid, "and I wanted mine."

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