Tags: Ben Affleck PBS | Finding Your Roots | slave owners

Ben Affleck Kin Cut from PBS Show Didn't Own Slaves, Others Did

By    |   Tuesday, 28 Apr 2015 12:48 PM

Movie star Ben Affleck may have jumped the gun when he asked PBS' "Finding Your Roots" to drop part of his segment in which it was revealed that his great-great-great-grandfather owned slaves.

According to The Daily Beast, further research shows that Affleck's distant-past relative on his mother's side, Georgia farmer and sheriff Benjamin Cole, actually did not own slaves.

However, the flap is far from over, since Breitbart News now has revealed that Affleck does, in fact, have slave-holding ancestors, at least nine of them, from Mississippi, Arkansas, Tennessee, North Carolina and Virginia.

Affleck's slaver ancestors came to light in memos that emerged from the hacking of Sony. In the memos, it was revealed that the genealogical show's host and part owner, Henry Louis Gates, wrote to Sony CEO Michael Lynton, saying: "One of our guests has asked us to edit out something about one of his ancestors — the fact that he owned slaves," the Daily Beast reported.

"Now, four or five of our guests this season descend from slave owners, including Ken Burns. We've never had anyone ever try to censor or edit what we found. He's a megastar. What do we do?"

Affleck later admitted he had requested the change, saying on his Twitter page: "Lots of people have been asking who the guy was. His name was Benjamin Cole - lived in Georgia on my mom's side about six generations back."

On his Facebook page, Affleck said: "After an exhaustive search of my ancestry for 'Finding Your Roots,' it was discovered that one of my distant relatives was an owner of slaves. I didn't want any television show about my family to include a guy who owned slaves. I was embarrassed. The very thought left a bad taste in my mouth.

"I regret my initial thoughts that the issue of slavery not be included in the story. We deserve neither credit nor blame for our ancestors and the degree of interest in this story suggests that we are, as a nation, still grappling with the terrible legacy of slavery. It is an examination well worth continuing. I am glad that my story, however indirectly, will contribute to that discussion. While I don't like that the guy is an ancestor, I am happy that aspect of our country's history is being talked about."

The Daily Beast, however, found out that Cole was not a slaveholder, but rather the listed executor of an estate which held slaves.

The section on Cole's slave-holding was edited out of the show and Gates said in a statement: "In the case of Mr. Affleck, we focused on what we felt were the most interesting aspects of his ancestry, including a Revolutionary War ancestor, a 3rd great-grandfather who was an occult enthusiast and his mother, who marched for civil rights during the Freedom Summer of 1964," the Daily Beast reports.

In a leaked transcript of the original show, revealed on Gawker, Affleck seems shaken to learn of Cole's history, stating, "God, it gives me kind of a sagging feeling to see, uh, a biological relationship to that."

However, Breitbart reveals that several of Affleck's ancestors did, in fact, own slaves, and one, his great-great-great-great-grandfather James Henry Alexander, owned 50 slaves in Holly Springs, Mississippi, before the Civil War.

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Movie star Ben Affleck may have jumped the gun when he asked PBS's "Finding Your Roots" to drop part of his segment in which it was revealed that his great-great-great-grandfather owned slaves.
Ben Affleck PBS, Finding Your Roots, slave owners
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