Genealogists working for The N.Y. Daily News have allegedly found evidence that Al Sharpton is a descendent of a slave owned by relatives of segregationist Sen. Strom Thurmond.

In the NYDN article, Sharpton told reporters, “I have always wondered what was the background of my family,” the newspaper quoted Sharpton as saying. “But nothing — nothing — could prepare me for this.” He also added, “It’s chilling. It’s amazing.”

Some of Thurmond’s relatives said the connection also came as a surprise to them. A niece, Ellen Senter, said, “I doubt you can find many native South Carolinians today whose family, if you traced them back far enough, didn’t own slaves,” she went on to say, “And it is wonderful that (Sharpton) was able to become what he is in spite of what his forefather was.”

The genealogists researching this connection sat that they have found documents establishing 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.

Strom Thurmond, of South Carolina, was once considered a symbol of segregation. During his 1948 bid for president, he promised to preserve racial segregation. In 1957, he filibustered for more than 24 hours against a civil rights bill.

It was later discovered, and acknowledged by the Thurmond family, that Strom did indeed father a biracial daughter, Essie Mae Washington-Williams, whose mother was a housekeeper in the home of Thurmond’s parents.

Thurmond died in 2003, at 100, and was the longest-serving senator in history.