Strom Thurmond 1903 - 2003
By Les Miller
Strom Thurmond was a historical
curiosity. He lived for 100 years. He served in the US Senate
for 48 years. He performed public services for almost 80 years.
But there are some other intriguing historical sides to Strom
long life. He was born within a handful of generations of American
Independence. His grandfather was of age to have fought in the
War. He was born during the time when the final vestiges of
Reconstruction were rendered unconstitutional by the Supreme
paving the way for the institutionalization of the perverse
mindset popularly known as "Jim Crow".
Mr. Thurmond's longevity meant that he personally witnessed
the traumas and fractures of Southern nullification and the
march to equal rights for the black man in America. There are
those who will tell you that Senator Thurmond finally became
a champion of the black man in South Carolina: history's pull
was too strong for even the most recalcitrant segregationist
to resist progress.
But history will forever remember Strom Thurmond as the prototypical
Dixiecrat. He personally undertook the effort to wreck the Democratic
Party in 1948 when he ran as the Presidential nominee: that
the inspiration for Richard Nixon's Southern Strategy. From
until the liberal victories of the Great Society, Mr. Thurmond,
with bygone names like Russell, Stennis, Eastland, Talmadge,
halls of the United States Senate to fillibuster, block, and
challenge of justice for all.
Strom Thurmond will forever be remembered as a vigorous and
segregationist. His longevity and his incredible service cannot
the inescapable truth that Strom Thurmond used his public mandate
pervert justice and offend human dignity. In fact, he was chosen
electorate to do those very things.
Even though he lived a very long life, Strom Thurmond was from
and place that has, thankfully, been receding from collective
during the last forty years of his life. He will always be a
though, of a terrible time when race was the single most important
in Southern, and by extension American, life. He will always
remembered by people who hate as one of their champions.