McConnell acknowledges he's the descendant of slave owners, compares himself to Obama

McConnell is against reparations for the descendants of slaves.

July 09, 2019, 4:12 PM

Asked if he knew he was the descendant of slave owners, as recently reported, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell on Tuesday compared himself to President Barack Obama.

"You know I find myself once again in the same position as President Obama. We both oppose reparations and we both are the descendants of slaveholders," McConnell said, confirming he is a descendant of slaveowners, and that the family history does not change his stance against giving reparations to the descendants of slaves.

An NBC News report cited U.S. census data that shows McConnell's great-great-grandfathers owned more than a dozen slaves.

PHOTO: Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell responds to a question from the news media during a press conference in the Ohio Clock Corridor of the U.S. Capitol in Washington, July 9, 2019.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell responds to a question from the news media during a press conference in the Ohio Clock Corridor of the U.S. Capitol in Washington, July 9, 2019.
Shawn Thew/EPA via Shutterstock

In June, McConnell said he opposed reparations because "no one currently alive was responsible for that."

"We've tried to deal with our original sin of slavery by fighting a Civil War, by passing landmark civil rights legislation, by electing an African American president," McConnell said.

One day after McConnell made the comments in June, a House Judiciary subcommittee held a notable hearing on reparations, the first hearing in more than a decade to consider the controversial topic. The hearing featured testimony from actor Danny Glover and influential writer Ta-Nehisi Coates.

PHOTO: President Barack Obama is greeted by Senate Minority Leader Senator Mitch McConnell after Obama addressed a Joint Session of Congress on Sept. 8, 2011, on Capitol Hill in Washington.
President Barack Obama is greeted by Senate Minority Leader Senator Mitch McConnell after Obama addressed a Joint Session of Congress on Sept. 8, 2011, on Capitol Hill in Washington.
Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images, FILE

In a December 2016 interview with Coates for The Atlantic, President Obama took a negative stance on reparations.

"I have much more confidence in my ability, or any president or any leader’s ability, to mobilize the American people around a multiyear, multi-billion-dollar investment to help every child in poverty in this country than I am in being able to mobilize the country around providing a benefit specific to African Americans as a consequence of slavery and Jim Crow," Obama said.

A report first published by an amateur genealogist in 2007 suggested Obama's white Kansan mother was the descendant of slave owners.

But a later report by Ancestry.com suggested Obama's mother was also a descendant of one of the first enslaved Africans brought to colonial America, who was later freed.

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