2007_02_stromsharpton.jpgWhat a way to end Black History Month! While researching the Reverend Al Sharpton's family history, it turns out that some ancestors of the civil rights leader were slaves of Strom Thurmond's ancestors.

The Daily News has the exclusive, which details exactly how Sharpton found out from genealogists. (The Daily News got the exclusive because they "gave him the opportunity to explore his family's history with the help of a team of experts from Ancestry.com.") Here's how Sharpton is connected to the Thurmond family:

- His great-grandfather, Coleman Sharpton, was a slave in South Carolina.

- Coleman Sharpton, a woman and two children - believed by genealogists to be his wife and kids - were given as a gift to Julia Thurmond, and were forced to move to Florida.

- Julia Thurmond's grandfather is Strom Thurmond's great-great-grandfather.

- Once freed, Coleman Sharpton earned a living as an elderly wood hauler, and fathered a son, Coleman Jr., who would go on to be a minister - like his grandson, the Rev. Al.

When hearing the news, Sharpton said, "It's chilling. It's amazing... The family that owned my great-grandfather was related to Strom Thurmond's family? Now that's amazing. I had no idea about the interlocking past. I don't know if you know how crazy this is going to be when it gets out."

The Daily News went to speak to Thurmond's relatives about the news (or to break the news). Thurmond's nephew Barry Bishop said, "That's a bunch of baloney," but then later said he couldn't comment. A niece, Ellen Senter, said, "If you go that far back in history, you're going to find lots of people connected to each other from different walks of life." She also said she'd be happy to talk to Sharpton.

The Daily News will have other articles this week about the findings.