According to this very interesting story at CNN, Rev. Al Sharpton is a descendant of a slave owned by relatives of the late Sen. Strom Thurmond. Both families found the revelation shocking.
Sharpton learned of his connection to Thurmond, once a prominent defender of segregation, last week through the Daily News, which asked genealogists to trace his roots. The revelations surfaced after Ancestry.com contacted a Daily News reporter who agreed to have his own family tree done. The intrigued reporter then turned around and asked Sharpton if he wanted to participate. Sharpton said he told the paper, “Go for it.”
The genealogists, who were not paid by the newspaper, uncovered the ancestral ties using a variety of documents that included census, marriage and death records.
They found that Sharpton’s great-grandfather, Coleman Sharpton, was a slave owned by Julia Thurmond, whose grandfather was Strom Thurmond’s great-great-grandfather. Coleman Sharpton was later freed.
Thurmond, of South Carolina, was once considered an icon of racial segregation. During his 1948 bid for president, he promised to preserve segregation and, in 1957, he filibustered for more than 24 hours against a civil rights bill (which I believe still holds the record for the longest filibuster).