In an open Facebook post, he admitted that one of his distant relatives used to be a massa and he actually lobbied Finding Your Roots host Henry Louis Gates Jr. to actually leave that little tidbit of news out of the segment.
“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,” Affleck wrote. “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.”
On Tuesday, both PBS and WNET gave a deeper look into the requests that Affleck made while trying to use his celebrity to cover up his family’s dark past. Dr. Gates released a statement through PBS’ Michael Getler in retribution which read, “Ultimately, I maintain editorial control on all of my projects and, with my producers, decide what will make for the most compelling program. 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.”
Later in his post, Affleck apologized and admitted the request was in the wrong but also feels the story’s traction alludes to deep-rooted issues within the country.
“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,” he continued. “It is an examination well worth continuing … 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.”
He also added further explanation to what happened behind-the-scenes.
“To clarify, because I see this story being framed as ‘censorship’ on some sites, when I told Skip I was uneasy about the slave owner, he told me he had not included it in his preliminary cut because there wasn’t much detail – a name and no details, so he wasn’t going with it to begin with. He also told me they would do a book later with a more complete story, and I said I would be happy to participate and talk about the issues more broadly,” he said in the comments of his post.
Read the entire statement on the next page. No word as of yet when the Ben Affleck episode will air on PBS.