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Al Sharpton's Family linked to Strom Thurmond

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Al Sharpton's Family linked to Strom Thurmond

Postby deerayfan072 » Mon Feb 26, 2007 8:39 am

NEW YORK (AP) -- The Rev. Al Sharpton is a descendant of a slave owned by relatives of the late Sen. Strom Thurmond -- a discovery the civil rights activist called "shocking" on Sunday.

Sharpton learned of his connection to Thurmond, once a prominent defender of segregation, last week through the Daily News, which asked genealogists to trace his roots.

"It was probably the most shocking thing in my life," Sharpton said at a news conference Sunday, the same day the tabloid revealed the story. (Watch Sharpton react to the news )

Some of Thurmond's relatives said the nexus also came as a surprise to them. Doris Strom Costner, a distant cousin who said she knew the late senator all her life, said Sunday she "never heard of such a thing."

"My momma never would talk to me about nothing like that," Costner said of ancestors who owned slaves. "She only talked to me about good things."

The revelations surfaced after Ancestry.com contacted a Daily News reporter who agreed to have his own family tree done. The intrigued reporter then turned around and asked Sharpton if he wanted to participate. Sharpton said he told the paper, "Go for it."

The genealogists, who were not paid by the newspaper, uncovered the ancestral ties using a variety of documents that included census, marriage and death records.

They found that Sharpton's great-grandfather, Coleman Sharpton, was a slave owned by Julia Thurmond, whose grandfather was Strom Thurmond's great-great-grandfather. Coleman Sharpton was later freed.

Thurmond, of South Carolina, was once considered an icon of racial segregation. During his 1948 bid for president, he promised to preserve segregation and, in 1957, he filibustered for more than 24 hours against a civil rights bill.

Sharpton, who ran for president in 2004 on a ticket of racial justice, said he met Thurmond only once in 1991 when he visited Washington, D.C., with the late soul singer James Brown, who knew Thurmond. Sharpton said the meeting was "awkward."

"I was not happy to meet him because what he had done all his life," Sharpton said.

Thurmond was seen as softening his segregation stance later in his life. He died in 2003, at 100. The long-serving senator was originally a Democrat but became a Republican in 1964.

Thurmond's children have acknowledged that Thurmond fathered a biracial daughter -- Essie Mae Washington-Williams' -- whose mother was a housekeeper in the home of Thurmond's parents.

Telephone message left by The Associated Press on Sunday for Strom Thurmond Jr. and an attorney who once represented Washington-Williams, were not returned.


Kind of ironic
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Postby knapplc » Mon Feb 26, 2007 8:52 am

I saw this on CNN or some such place and my reaction was "Yeah, so?"

Other than a small bit of irony, what possible use could this information serve today? Slavery was legal in the days when Thurmond's ancestors owned Sharpton's ancestors. We might as well write a story stating that someone in Thurmond's family married and sired children off of a 15-year-old girl in the 1600s. It is shocking today, but it was legal then (and the norm).

Lots of things that were OK back in the day aren’t OK now. We can’t look at them through the filter of today’s morality and cast judgment on people today for things that were done then.
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Postby deerayfan072 » Mon Feb 26, 2007 8:56 am

knapplc wrote:I saw this on CNN or some such place and my reaction was "Yeah, so?"

Other than a small bit of irony, what possible use could this information serve today? Slavery was legal in the days when Thurmond's ancestors owned Sharpton's ancestors. We might as well write a story stating that someone in Thurmond's family married and sired children off of a 15-year-old girl in the 1600s. It is shocking today, but it was legal then (and the norm).

Lots of things that were OK back in the day aren’t OK now. We can’t look at them through the filter of today’s morality and cast judgment on people today for things that were done then.


i totally agree.i think the ironic part is that the two became big time political figures who are polar oppisites and do not like each other.
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Postby SniperShot » Mon Feb 26, 2007 11:48 am

That's crazy.

On another note- my only memories of Thurmond were when I lived in South Carolina growing up my parents used to laugh at how much of a given it was he was going to keep getting reelected. The guy running against him every time was just wasting his breath, life, and money campaigning against him. Every time you would see a commercial on TV that was anti-Thurmond you just chuckled and felt bad for whoever wasted the money to sponsor it.
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Postby sportsaddict » Mon Feb 26, 2007 7:13 pm

That's like Barry Bonds being somehow related to Bud Selig. :-b
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