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Segregationist Senator Thurmond's biracial daughter dies in South Carolina

Essie Mae Washington-Williams, the biracial daughter of the late segregationist Sen. Strom Thurmond, R-S.C., has died at the age of 87. MSNBC's Thomas Roberts reports.

CHARLESTON, S.C. -- Essie Mae Washington-Williams, who in 2003 revealed she was the biracial daughter of segregationist Sen. Strom Thurmond, has died in South Carolina at age 87, a funeral home representative said Monday.

Vann Dozier, a representative of Leevy's Funeral Home in Columbia, said she did not know the cause of death. Local media reported that Washington-Williams died Monday.

Washington-Williams was born in 1925 to a black woman who worked as a maid in Thurmond's parents' home as a teenager. Washington-Williams went public with the fact she was Thurmond's daughter in 2003 after his death that year, and the late senator's family confirmed her claim.

She worked as a teacher in Los Angeles for 27 years and was the mother of four children.

Her 2006 memoir "Dear Senator" detailed her decades-long relationship with her father, the letters they wrote each other and the kindness he showed her personally, which she struggled to reconcile with his opposition to civil rights and his defense of racial segregation. In his lifetime, Thurmond said he was not racist but opposed what he saw as excessive federal intervention.