Democratic presidential hopeful Beto O’Rourke revealed Sunday that he and his wife are both descendants of slave owners.
The former Texas lawmaker came clean in a Medium post, saying he found out through old family records.
“I was recently given documents showing that both Amy and I are descended from people who owned slaves,” he wrote. “Along with other possessions listed in their property log were two human beings, Rose and Eliza. A paternal great-great-great grandfather of mine, Andrew Cowan Jasper, owned these two women in the 1850s.”
O’Rourke said that there are also “records showing that a maternal great-great-great grandfather, Frederick Williams, most likely owned slaves in the 1860s (‘most likely,’ because we are not certain that the Frederick Williams who is my ancestor and the Frederick Williams who owned slaves are the same person, but there’s enough circumstantial data to lead me to conclude that it’s likely).”
In addition, “records also showed that Amy had an ancestor who owned slaves and another who was a member of the Confederate Army,” according to the presidential candidate.
“Something that we’ve been thinking about and talking about in town hall meetings and out on the campaign — the legacy of slavery in the United States — now has a much more personal connection,” O’Rourke said. “That those enslaved Americans owned by my ancestors were denied their freedom, denied the ability to amass wealth, denied full civil rights in America after slavery also had long term repercussions for them and their descendants.”
“I benefit from a system that my ancestors built to favor themselves at the expense of others,” he added in the post, a defense of reparations.
O’Rourke added, “We all need to know our own story as it relates to the national story, much as I am learning mine. It is only then, I believe, that we can take the necessary steps to repair the damage done and stop visiting this injustice on the generations that follow ours.”
He went on to say that the’d continue supporting reparations for slave descendants — beginning with “an important national conversation on slavery and racial injustice.”
“We all need to know our own story as it relates to the national story, much as I am learning mine,” O’Rourke concluded. “It is only then, I believe, that we can take the necessary steps to repair the damage done and stop visiting this injustice on the generations that follow ours.”
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