What a Family Secret Begat: Essie, Strom and Me

What a Family Secret Begat: Essie, Strom and Me:
For One Reporter, 1981 Tip Finally Yields the Big Story
by Marilyn W. Thompson
The Washington Post
Sunday, December 21, 2003; Page D01

When the phone call finally came, I was almost too weak to take it. “A lawyer in Los Angeles is trying to reach you,” my editor told me. “He represents someone named Essie Mae Washington-Williams. He says she’s holding a press conference next week to tell the world her story.”

Six weeks of chemotherapy had left me exhausted, but I bolted upright in the bed.

“What?” I nearly screeched. “Are you kidding me?”

The woman’s name meant little to anyone else. She was a retired schoolteacher living in obscurity in Los Angeles, a widow with four great-grandchildren whose tidy living room was proudly decorated with photos of a large, extended family.

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