Flashback to mid-December 2003, when Essie Mae Washington-Williams came forward with the bombshell that she was the illegitimate daughter of the recently-deceased patriarch of South Carolina politics, Sen. Strom Thurmond.
Rep. Wilson, a former page of Thurmond’s, immediately told The State newspaper that he didn’t believe Williams. He deemed the revelation “unseemly.” And he added that even if she was telling the truth, she should have kept the inconvenient facts to herself:
“It’s a smear on the image that [Thurmond] has as a person of high integrity who has been so loyal to the people of South Carolina,” Wilson said.
Of course, Williams’ story was entirely true — and never really in doubt. Thurmond was 22 and Williams’ mother, a black maid working in his family home, was 16 when Williams was born in 1925. Thurmond supported Williams financially for decades.