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Dear Senator: A Memoir by the Daughter of Strom Thurmond Paperback – Bargain Price, January 24, 2006
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From Publishers Weekly
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
About the Author
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.
Top Customer Reviews
Anyone who was born out of wedlock, adopted, and had an ambiguous or contentious relationship with their biological father, as was the case with myself, can truly say A-MEN and indentify with the pain she describes of not being openly acknowledged by one's biological father. She does an excellent job of articulating what it's like to be in that situation and people who could identify with this will find this aspect of the book almost theraputic.
The book is great with South Carolina history. She does a good job of detailing South Carolina's dark and racist past, and it's amazing to know that her bloodline contains some of the most infamous enemies to Black people that SC has ever known (Matthew C. Butler who led a masacre of 40 Blacks in Hamburg SC in 1876, William Thurmond, Strom's dad, who masterminded the career of the pro-lynching Senator Ben Tillman who also disfranchised and Jim-crowed Blacks in SC, etc. etc.). Strom Thurmond was Abraham Lincoln compared to these guys, and Mrs. Washington-Williams makes no apologies for these characters.
Having met Strom once in 1991 myself, I can attest to what she says about Strom Thurmond's two-sidedness in his relationship with African-Americans. An uncle of mine worked for him, and even Blacks who (rightfully) detested him as I did found him strangely likeable and charming in person. But while she finds it difficult to express her ambivalence about their relationship and his refusal to publicly acknowledge her in spite fo his personal kindness, she learns not to hold back on her disgust of his public statements and policies toward African-Americans.Read more ›
I read the book from cover to cover on the day that it arrived through the post; sadly it is not a book you can get easily here in the UK.
Essie Mae Washington-Williams grew up in a segregated world that was the USA in the 1920s, until one day she found out that her Mother was actually her Aunt and her mother's sister Carrie Butler her real mother!
Another shock followed this revelation in 1938, Essie Mae had taken it for granted she had a Black father but it turned out that her father was actually a white man, not only was he white but he came from a rich and powerful white Southern family and he had been secretly supporting his once black mistress and their daughter.
Strom Thurmond was a man known and still known for his racist ideals, based on what he wrongly thought was best for black and white and idea for a perfect America did not include racial mixing, however he did not practice what he preached and his daughter Essie was living proof of his double standards.
This book could have been an angry, bitter book by a woman who had lived in the shadows for all of her 70 or so years, denying what she knew as the truth that she was in fact Strom Thurmond's first born child, never able to stand publicly at her father's side because of who he was and what he stood for.Read more ›
Washington grew up in Coatesville, PA living a fairly normal childhood until she was 16. At this time, three bombshells would change her life forever. First, she discovered that the couple she assumed to be her parents were actually an aunt and uncle. Second, when traveling to SC for the first time for a family funeral, she was exposed to the ugly face of segregation and the abject poverty in which her southern family lived. But the biggest shock was learning that her father was the prominent white lawyer and judge, Strom Thurmond. Her mother was a 16 year old housemaid in the Thurmond household when Washington was born. After meeting her father for the first time, Thurmond always seemed glad to see Washington, took an interest in her life (especially her education), and always provided her with financial assistance. They met on average once a year. But he never truly acknowledged her as his child--at least not publicly.
Dear Senator is also a window of an ugly period of our history--one that included segregation, racism and Jim Crow. It was especially difficult for Washington when Thurmond went from being a Roosevelt progressive to a Dixiecrat, running for president on a ticket that encouraged segregation and discouraged civil rights initiatives. Although he lost the race, this legacy would brand Thurmond as a racist for the rest of his life. When questioned by Washington, she was told "look at the deeds, not at the words.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I enjoyed reading this book. My mother grew up not too far from her birthplace.Published 1 month ago by Carmen Homer
I approached this book with a pre-conceived dislike of Sen. Storm Thurmond. I come away from reading it with very mixed feelings. Read morePublished 2 months ago by little lady
Honest and raw. Timely report and review of African American History in the U.S. This account relates to current racial issues existing today, Race relations will not change until... Read morePublished 2 months ago by ouachita rita
Courageous story, very compelling heart felt life, interesting history that kept me turning the pages.Published 2 months ago by sunnydays
This was an interested book, but I honestly DO NOT understand this woman! She loved and wanted to protect her father, a fervent racist, and one of America's best know... Read morePublished 2 months ago by Sally in DC
Powerful Southern Senator Strom Thurmond served as the standard-bearer for segregation throughout his long and famous life. Read morePublished 4 months ago by Claire Maria O'Brien
I enjoyed this book very much! it is a great bit of history lesson too.Published 5 months ago by Thelma McClinton