Overview

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 ...

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Dear Senator

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Overview

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.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780061743085
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 10/13/2009
  • Sold by: HARPERCOLLINS
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 240
  • Sales rank: 309,941
  • File size: 481 KB

Meet 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.


William Stadiem was a Harvard JD-MBA and Wall Street lawyer before embarking for Hollywood, where he has written the screenplays for such films as Franco Zeffirelli's Young Toscanini, starring Elizabeth Taylor. He wrote the bestselling Marilyn Monroe Confidential, and Lullaby and Good Night with Vincent Bugliosi. Formerly the Hollywood columnist for Andy Warhol's Interview as well as food critic for Los Angeles magazine, Stadiem lives in a home overlooking the ocean in Santa Monica, California.
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 3 )
Rating Distribution

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Sort by: Showing 1 – 11 of 10 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted March 9, 2012

    Beautifully told story.

    I wish this was required reading in school. Our children have no idea how people lived back when the author was growing up. A wonderful history lesson.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 9, 2006

    Compelling Read

    Although the literary style does not reach the highest peaks, the story, as it is told, is incredibly compelling. As a northern, fair-skinned, black woman, Strom Thurmond represented, to me, all the evil that the South had to offer... until I read this book. It helped me to understand the lifestyle of the South, why my fair-skinned, blue-eyed grandmother insisted I continue to pursue my education, and how a young, 'black' woman could love a secret father like Strom Thurmond. More Black Americans need to embrace the idea of taking advantage of and furthering their education and making the most of the suffering of our ancestors. In many ways, we are all composed of the 'melting pot' heritage that this country supposedly represents. Essie Mae Washington-Williams represents the strength of the Black American woman while also showing respect to her white ancestors, her elders and to God. Her pride in her heritage, on both sides of her family, was found only by digging deeply enough to know her father in the only way she could. May we learn to stand up as Black Americans and make the most of our American heritage.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 1, 2005

    A touching memoir

    I enjoyed reading this memoir greatly. The historical references made it feel as if I was enjoying a rich and wonderful story by a campfire told by my older relatives. I enjoyed this book, because of its candid feel. I fully expected to hate Strom Thurmond, but instead I came to pity him. Essie May did not write a politically correct autobiography. She wrote what she felt. With all my grandparents deceased and never having been able to hear their wonderful stories of life, this book is heartfelt and generous in the telling of the story of Mrs. Washington-William's life. I envy her descendents, she has left a legacy for them to share and cherish with themselves and the world. I only wish that I had had an opportunity to hear my Grand-Parents lives from them, as well.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 2, 2005

    wow!!!! powerfull

    relationships , has no color , life , no matter what color your mother or father. life is a wonderful thing. wow ! what an untold love story. i can't wait to read the book

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 12, 2005

    romance?

    I wonder what sort of romance would have occurred in Jim Crow's S.Carolina between a 23 yr old massah and 15year old black maid. Could it have been rape?

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 12, 2005

    Great, Heartbreaking American Story

    Credit Essie Mae Washington with the class and disgnity not to emerge from the shadows during her father's lifetime and cause him grief in his political career. But credit her more for enduring the isolation, rejection and lies that the American apartheid system, so ably defended by her father, caused her.To her immense credit, nothing seemed to stand in the way of her getting ahead in life and making a proper life for herself and her family, which she so capably did. This story is just heartwrenching, told without bitterness or cant - wish our whole system of race relations were so.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 12, 2005

    ECLECTIC ECSTASY!!!!

    This is one of the best books, that I have EVER had the pleasure of reading. It will absorb your soul and senses, in a way that a scrumptious piece of chocolate will do. DeFacto... having an ORGASM on the written word.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 10, 2005

    Everyone is someone's family

    I really feel sorry for this woman. That's all, just pity. I cannot comprehend how awful it must have been to be denied by your own father in public, I cannot judge her for keeping this secret, it would be a tough decision to make. So, I can accept that she will always love the father that never showed love to her, not in public anyway. But, to me, Thurmond will always be a total redneck bigot. If he truly ever had a change of heart, this would not have gone to the grave.--- Redneck-n.- a white man who will sleep with a black woman, but won't go to school with her-- Shame on you South Carolina, you knew better, but you voted for him anyway.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 4, 2012

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted January 26, 2010

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 11, 2012

    No text was provided for this review.

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