No Child Left Behind

Strom Thurmond’s illegitimate daughter.

The lost child

Yesterday, 78-year-old Essie Mae Washington-Williams confirmed that the late South Carolina Sen. Strom Thurmond was her father. In Slate this July, Diane McWhorter wrote that the visage of a mixed-race daughter—Washington-Williams was born to a black servant of the Thurmond family—muddles the narrative of the politician’s deliverance from prejudice. “In contrast to, say, George ‘I Was Wrong’ Wallace, Thurmond has always been an ornery redemption project. He did not repent. Even so, his illegitimate daughter further complicates the moral picture. Does she mean that he was even more heinous than we knew? Or that—dude!—he wasn’t such a racist bastard after all?”