Ben Affleck Reveals Name of Slave-Owning Ancestor

Actor takes to social media to say a male relative on his mother’s side owned slaves in Georgia

Last Updated: April 22, 2015 @ 8:30 PM

A day after apologizing for asking PBS to remove mentions of his slave-owning ancestor on the genealogy series “Finding Your Roots,” Ben Affleck has revealed the identity of the long-deceased relative in question.

“Lots of people have been asking who the guy was,” the actor tweeted Wednesday. “His name was Benjamin Cole — lived in Georgia on my Mom’s side about six generations back.”

On Tuesday, Affleck issued an apology and explained why he asked to have Cole edited out of the PBS program. The apology came after his request was revealed in the WikiLeaks archive of a leaked conversation between Sony Entertainment Chairman Michael Lynton and the show’s host and producer Henry Louis “Skip” Gates, Jr.

“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,” Affleck wrote on Facebook.

“Skip decided what went into the show. I lobbied him the same way I lobby directors about what takes of mine I think they should use. This is the collaborative creative process,” Affleck continued.

“Skip agreed with me on the slave owner but made other choices I disagreed with. In the end, it’s his show and I knew that going in. I’m proud to be his friend and proud to have participated.”

The email chain showed Gates and longtime friend Lynton discussing Affleck’s request.

“For the first time, one of our guests has asked us to edit out something about one of his ancestors — the fact that he owned slaves,” Harvard scholar Gates said in the thread, sent in July 2014.

Lynton advised Gates to “take it out if no one knows, but if it gets out that you are editing the material based on this kind of sensitivity then it gets tricky. Again, all things being equal I would definitely take it out.”

The episode aired without any reference to Affleck’s slave-owning ancestor. However, PBS announced Tuesday it would be investigating the matter.