It's not so easy, I think, to not be acknowledged as your father's offspring for years. I'm rather impressed by Mrs. Washington-Williams take on the historical importance of her heritage and the importance for blacks to join in our nation's complex and sometimes unsavory history.
Essie Mae Washington-Williams (October 12, 1925 – February 4, 2013) was an American teacher and writer. She is best known as the oldest natural child of Strom Thurmond, Governor of South Carolina and longtime United States Senator, known for his pro-racial segregation policies. Of mixed race, she was born to Carrie Butler, a 16-year-old black girl who worked as a household servant for Thurmond's parents, and Thurmond, then 22 and unmarried. Washington-Williams grew up in the family of one of her mother's sisters, not learning of her biological parents until 1938 when her mother came for a visit and informed Essie Mae she was her mother. She graduated from college, earned a master's degree, married and had a family, and had a 30-year professional career in education.
Washington-Williams did not reveal her biological father's identity until she was 78 years old, after Thurmond's death in 2003. He had paid for her college education, and took an interest in her and her family all his life. In 2004 she joined the Daughters of the American Revolution and United Daughters of the Confederacy through Thurmond's ancestral lines. She encouraged other African Americans to join such lineage societies, to enlarge the histories they represent. In 2005, she published her autobiography, which was nominated for the National Book Award and a Pulitzer Prize.