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Affleck Reveals Name of Slave-Owning Great-Grandfather

Ben Affleck revealed the name of his slave-owning great-grandfather on Wednesday, a day after saying he regretted asking producers of a PBS documentary to edit any mention of the ancestor out of a documentary television show.

“Lots of people have been asking me who the guy was,” Affleck wrote in a tweet Wednesday. “His name was Benjamin Cole – lived in Georgia on my Mom’s side about six generations back.”

An email exchange leaked by WikiLeaks last week revealed that Affleck had asked the producer and host of PBS’ Finding Your Roots documentary program, Henry Louis Gates Jr., to leave information about the ancestor on the cutting-room floor.

“To do this would be a violation of PBS rules actually, even for Batman,” Gates wrote in an email to Sony CEO Michael Lynton. “Once we open the door to censorship, we lose control of the brand.”

Affleck addressed the controversy in a Facebook post on Tuesday, saying he was “embarrassed” by the ancestor.

“I regret my initial thoughts that the issue of slavery not be included in the story,” Affleck wrote. “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.”

On Tuesday, PBS announced it had begun an “internal review” of the production of Affleck’s Finding Your Roots episode to ensure the network’s “editorial standards were observed.”

 

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