This just blew me away.
Although Sharpton is known nationally and internationally, he's a New Yorker. We New Yorkers watched his several transformations, from minister/performer/civil rights activist/loud-mouthed buffoon and back again. No matter what his outer image, Sharpton has always stood on the side of justice. In recent years, he's evolved into a clear, steadfast voice for the working class and the poor, for peace, and for sanity. And what would we have done without him during the Giuliani years?
From the New York Times:
The results of the investigation, pieced together from census documents, slave narratives and birth and marriage registries, were unveiled yesterday in The Daily News, with the front-page headline, "Shock of My Life!"
"In the story of the Thurmonds and the Sharptons is the story of the shame and the glory of America," Mr. Sharpton said at a news conference at the office of The Daily News yesterday, with the older of his two daughters, Dominique, standing behind him.
"The shame is that people were owned as property, and the shame is that I'm the heir of those who were property to the Thurmond family," he said. "The glory is that Strom Thurmond ran for president in 1948 on a segregationist ticket; I ran in '04 on a ticket for racial justice, and that shows what America can become, if you’re determined to beat" discrimination.
Mr. Sharpton said he had not heard from the Thurmonds and had no immediate plans of contacting them. "This is not family," he said firmly. "This is property."
The movement of African Americans to uncover their slave ancestry is relatively recent and, as I understand it, still pretty rare. I can well understand the reluctance. What a thing to come face to face with.
Senator Thurmond, as you probably know, was a staunch segregationist, a wingnut, and a walking cadaver whose continued existence gave credence to the belief that the good die young. And of course, he was a raving hypocrite. A woman named Essie Mae Washington-Williams, the daughter of the Thurmond family's maid, waited until the senator was dead to publicly acknowledge that she was his daughter.
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The title of this post is from William Faulkner, who knew a thing or two about the past, and about slavery. It's one of my favourite quotations.
New York Daily News exclusive here.