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A beloved daughter Essie Mae Washington-Williams

2/14/2013, 3:13 p.m.
At Thanksgiving, embracing the winds of change and increasing our faith

But Williams never confirmed the rumors. For 78 years, she honored the senator's request that no one know the truth about their relationship. During his lifetime, she placed the senator's political career ahead of any desire to be recognized.

Now that Mrs. Essie Mae has passed on, there will be a few days of dissecting their relationship again and reminding the public that the senator was ashamed of his daughter. But this was not the case.

In a conversation I had with Williams years ago, she told me how they finally bonded before his death in 2003. Williams' passing is more about her legacy with her children, grandchildren and her larger community than about her being the mixed-race child of Thurmond. While the media continue making the connection between the two, let us also resolve to tell the public about her life beyond her famous father: Williams was a well-educated leader, organizer, philanthropist, strategist and servant of God her entire life.

Many of us were aware of her struggles with illness for a long time. Finally, she has found peace, and her legacy will endure with her family and the many lives she touched along the way.

Williams did not make any financial claims on the Thurmond estate. "We are not looking for money. We are merely seeking closure by way of the truth for Essie Mae Washington-Williams," said her attorney, Frank Wheaton, to the Washington Post. After nearly eight decades of subverting certain basic and essential facts about her identity, it seems that Williams at the time wished only to be honest with herself--and with society, for that matter--about who she was.

The story of Thurmond and Williams is not just their own, but part of our history. Now that Thurmond and his daughter have passed into the arms of their shared Eternal Father, history deserves a full and accurate accounting of their warm and fatherly relationship before the final curtain is drawn.

Armstrong Williams is on Sirius/XM Power 128, weekdays 7-8 p.m. and 4-5 a.m. Become a fan on Facebook and follow him on Twitter.