The Rittenhouse Review

A Philadelphia Journal of Politics, Finance, Ethics, and Culture

Friday, July 02, 2004  

Daughter of the Confederacy

Essie Mae Washington-Williams, daughter of the late Sen. Strom Thurmond (S.C.), Grand Knight of the Orders of the Supreme, Republican Party Council of the U.S. of A., goes all genealogical and stuff (“Thurmond’s Biracial Daughter Seeks to Join Confederacy Group,” by Shaila K. Dewan and Ariel Hart, the New York Times):

Essie Mae Washington-Williams, a biracial woman who stepped forward last year to acknowledge that she was the daughter of the late Senator Strom Thurmond of South Carolina, now wants to join the United Daughters of the Confederacy, an organization of descendants of soldiers who fought for the South in the Civil War. […]

In a statement, Ms. Washington-Williams said: “It is important for all Americans to have the opportunity to know and understand their bloodline. Through my father’s line, I am fortunate to trace my heritage back to the birth of our nation and beyond. On my mother’s side, like most African-Americans, my history is broken by the course of human events.” […]

Mark Potok of the Southern Poverty Law Center, a civil liberties group in Montgomery, Ala., said there was no way to say how many Sons of Confederate Veterans or United Daughters of the Confederacy are black, but, he said, “I think there are precious few.”

“This is the kind of thing that's going to come as a rude shock to the present leadership of the S.C.V., to put it mildly,” he said.

And Mrs. K. “You Don’t See Many Darkies With That Nice White Hair Anymore” T., my racist boss while I was in graduate school at the University of Virginia, fumbles about for the nearest fainting chair.

By the way, in employing such delicacies as “my history is broken by the course of human events,” Ms. Washington-Williams has proved she has mastered the gentle arts. She ought to have no problem passing the membership interview. And she had better not. This time around, people are watching.

[Post-publication addendum (July 3): Another Mrs. K.T. memory. Mrs. K.T. attended and was graduated from Sweet Briar College, I’m guessing circa 1935. She once told me Sweet Briar “girls” were, in her day, required to attend chapel at, if I recall correctly, 8:30 a.m. Relaying this requirement to her father, he responded with shock: “When I was at the University my boy didn’t wake me until ten.” Yes, it’s true. Mrs. K.T.’s father brought “staff” with him to the University of Virginia.]

| HOME |

The Rittenhouse Review | Copyright 2002-2006 | PERMALINK |