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Virginian Takes to the Hill to Show Support for Thurmond

Posted January 7, 2003 at 12:04pm

Call it a one-man demonstration. Peron Wheeler, a 50-year-old from Chesapeake, Va., spent his Monday morning outside of the Russell Senate Office Building showing support for retiring Sen. Strom Thurmond, the South Carolina Republican and centenarian. Carrying a sign declaring “African American Honors Strom Thurmond,” Wheeler said Thurmond is “no racist.” He said the Senator visited him at his South Carolina church in 1972 and wrote a letter praising Wheeler’s choir. Thurmond’s views on race received attention last month after former Senate Minority Leader Trent Lott (R-Miss.) said the country would have been better off if Thurmond had won his 1948 segregationist-based campaign for president. The comment resulted in Lott’s resignation as GOP leader. Thurmond ended his Congressional career this week after 48 years in the Senate. He retires as both the oldest Member of Congress and longest-serving Senator in history.