Got an email from professor/author Kevin R. Johnson today. Here’s an excerpt from a commentary he wrote for the San Francisco Chronicle, Sunday, January 4, 2004, on Strom Thurmond’s daughter and the enduring taboo on black/white marriages
The nation recently learned from the mixed-race daughter of the late U.S. Sen. Strom Thurmond, R-S.C., that he was her father. Essie Mae Washington- Williams’ story is especially intriguing because Thurmond, for much of his political career, was a staunch segregationist and a fierce opponent of civil rights for African Americans.
The truth of the matter is that, as Washington-Williams herself emphasizes, racial mixture long has been a part of the American experience. In the days of slavery, intimate liaisons — often involuntary — were common between white men and black women, with the most well-known probably being that between Thomas Jefferson and Sally Hemings.
I’ve corresponded with Kevin in the past and its good to see him weigh in on this issue. In August 2000, he was kind enough to allow The Multiracial Activist to publish an excerpt to his book How Did You Get to Be Mexican?: A White/Brown Man’s Search for Identity. You can read that excerpt here.