James Strom Thurmond Sr. (December 5, 1902 – June 26, 2003) was an American politician who represented South Carolina in the United States Senate from 1954 to 2003. Prior to his 48 years as a senator, he served as the 103rd governor of South Carolina from 1947 to 1951. Thurmond was a member of the Democratic Party until 1964 when he joined the Republican Party for the remainder of his legislative career. He also ran for president in 1948 as the Dixiecrat candidate, receiving over a million votes and winning four states. A staunch opponent of civil rights legislation in the 1950s and 1960s, Thurmond conducted the longest speaking filibuster ever by a lone senator, at 24 hours and 18 minutes in length, in opposition to the Civil Rights Act of 1957. In the 1960s, he voted against the 1964 Civil Rights Act and the Voting Rights Act of 1965. Despite his support for racial segregation, Thurmond denied the accusation that he was a racist by insisting he was a supporter of states' rights and an opponent of excessive federal authority. Thurmond switched parties ahead of the 1964 United States presidential election, saying that the Democratic Party no longer represented people like him, and endorsed Republican nominee Barry Goldwater, who also opposed the Civil Rights Act. By the 1970s, Thurmond started to moderate his stance on race, but continued to defend his prior support for segregation on the basis of states' rights and Southern society at the time.Thurmond served three times as President pro tempore of the United States Senate, and chaired the Senate Judiciary Committee from 1981 to 1987 and the Senate Armed Services Committee from 1995 to 1999.
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