Sharpton, Thurmond Families Bound by Slavery

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Citing a genealogical study, The New York Daily News says ancestors of civil rights activist Al Sharpton were once slaves owned by ancestors of the late Sen. Strom Thurmond of South Carolina.


It is hard to imagine two public figures any more different than these. The late senator Strom Thurmond once ran for president on a segregationist platform.

Mr. STROM THURMOND (Former Republican Senator, South Carolina): We think it's unconstitutional for the Congress to attempt to pass such proposals as have been recommended by President Truman, such as the so-called anti-poll tax law, the anti-lynching law.

INSKEEP: That's Strom Thurmond, and this is Al Sharpton, one of the few African-Americans ever to run for president.

Reverend AL SHARPTON (Minister, Political Activist): And the reason they would like to see people like me out of the race is they want to not have to address us. But I'm not going nowhere, and these are our views.

(Soundbite of applause)

INSKEEP: Turns out Sharpton and Thurman have something in common. The New York Daily News traced Sharpton's genealogy and it found out that Rev. Sharpton is descended from a slave owned by Strom Thurmond's relatives.

Rev. SHARPTON: I couldn't describe the emotions that I've had over the last two or three days of thinking about this - everything from anger and outrage to reflection and to some pride and glory.

INSKEEP: The activist and politician said he always suspected that his paternal great-grandfather was a slave, but he never suspected that Thurmond's relative was the owner.

Rev. SHARPTON: It's like in a thunderstorm, you go outside, you expect the thunder and the lightning. Well, until somebody tells you it's going to last 40 days, that's like finding out Strom Thurmond was part of the deal.

INSKEEP: At a news conference, Sharpton went on to say that in this story, we can find quote, "The shame and the glory of America."

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