Who was Strom Thurman and what was his platform?

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mwestwood | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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Famous for being the oldest man to serve in the United States Senate, Strom Thurmond left the Senate at age 100.  Thurmond became a lawyer when he was around thirty years of age, and went on to become a Judge.  In 1946 Thurman was elected governor of South Carolina, in the days of Jim Crow.  Nevertheless, having promised to have a transparent government, Thurman arrested the men responsible for the mob-lyching of Willie Earle.  While none of the men were convicted, the NAACP and the ACLU congratulated Thurman for his efforts.

Ironically, Thurman's political platform was extremely conservative and anti-Civil Rights.  He is famous for having the longest filibuster by a single senator in opposition to the 1957 Civil Rights Act; Thurman spoke for 24 hours and 18 minutes without stopping. In 1948 in opposition to some of the domestic policies of Truman, Strom Thurman ran on a third-party ticket for States' Rights Democratic Party, often called Dixiecrats. While Thurman insisted that he was no racist, he strongly opposed desegregation and the repeal of miscegenation statutes and a large overbearing federal government.  After he lost the presidential election, Thurman later supported Eisenhower over Adlai Stevenson.  In 1964 he switched to the Republican Party, supporting Barry Goldwater, who also opposed Civil Rights legislation.

Ironically, the man who opposed miscengenation was guilty of fathering a child at age 22 with the black maid of his house, who was then 16.  Thurman did pay for her college education.


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