Essie Mae Washington-Williams, the mixed-race daughter of segregationist Senator Strom Thurmond, died on Sunday of unknown causes at age 87. Washington-Williams was born of an affair her father had with his black maid, and kept the secret for more than 70 years, only revealing it after the senator's death in 2003. Thurmond spent 47 years in the U.S. Senate and even ran for president on a segregationist platform. Once asked why she kept his secret, Washington-Williams replied, "He trusted me, and I respected him."
secret child Stephen Morton / Getty Images