Ben Affleck has publicly addressed his controversial decision to hide the fact that one of his ancestors was a slave-owner. Leaked emails had revealed that Ben lobbied a documentary maker not to include details of slave ownership in his ancestry when he took part in the US TV series Finding Your Roots.
The Hollywood star, 42, has now taken to Facebook to speak out about the controversy. "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," he 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."
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Ben Affleck has publicly apologised for attempting to cover up his family's roots
Ben admitted he has "lobbied" the show’s host Henry Louis Gates to make no mention of "Benjamin Cole – lived in Georgia on my Mom's side about six generations back". But he told fans it was "important to remember that this isn't a news program".
"Finding Your Roots is a show where you voluntarily provide a great deal of information about your family, making you quite vulnerable," Ben wrote. "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."
The Batman actor added that while he regrets his initial decision "that the issue of slavery not be included in the story", he hoped that the incident would contribute to America’s debate about the legacy of slavery.
Ben Affleck with wife Jennifer Garner and his mother Chris
"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," Ben said.
"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."