Ben Affleck Reveals the Name of His Slave-Owning Ancestor in 'Finding Your Roots' Controversy

He "lived in Georgia on my mom's side about six generations back," he wrote.

ByLesley Messer
April 23, 2015, 10:32 AM

— -- Ben Affleck admitted earlier this week that he was embarrassed to learn that one of his ancestors owned slaves.

Now, he's revealing the name of that person.

"Lots of people have been asking who the guy was," the actor Tweeted on Wednesday. "His name was Benjamin Cole -- lived in Georgia on my mom's side about six generations back."

Affleck, 42, came under fire after an email exchange posted on Wikileaks revealed that he had asked the team behind the PBS program "Finding Your Roots" not to include Cole in an episode about his family tree. In the emails, Henry Louis Gates, the host of the program, expressed hesitation to comply with Affleck's wishes, though, ultimately, Cole was not mentioned in the October episode that featured Affleck.

However, Gates told The Associated Press that the reason Cole was omitted was because in researching Affleck's family, he and his team found other people that made for a better narrative.

Meanwhile, the actor pointed out that "Finding Your Roots" is not a news program, but, rather, "a show where you voluntarily provide a great deal of information about your family, making you quite vulnerable. The assumption is that they will never be dishonest but they will respect your willingness to participate and not look to include things you think would embarrass your family.

"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," Affleck said. "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."

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