Democratic presidential candidate Beto O’Rourke revealed on Twitter that he and his wife Amy are both descendants of slave owners. He also included a link to a medium.com article he wrote, titled “Rose and Eliza,” in reference to two slaves his distance relatives owned.
“Something that we’ve been talking about in town hall meetings – the legacy of slavery in the United States – now has a much more personal connection,” O’Rourke said in the tweet. “I was recently given documents showing that both Amy and I are descended from people who owned slaves.”
“A paternal great-great-great grandfather of mine, Andrew Cowan Jasper, owned these two women in the 1850s,” O’Rourke wrote. Records also revealed that one of his wife’s ancestors owned slaves while another was part of the Confederate Army.
“They were able to build wealth on the backs and off the sweat of others, wealth that they would then be able to pass down to their children and their children’s children,” O’Rourke said of two of his great-great-great grandfathers.
“The way that fortune was passed through the generations from Andrew to me, misfortune was passed through the generations from Rose and Eliza to their descendants who are alive today,” O’Rourke wrote.
The post continued, “That only increases the urgency I feel to help change this country so that it works for those who have been locked-out of or locked-up in this system…We all need to know our own story as it relates to the national story, much as I am learning mine.”
He 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.”
According to USA Today, the revelation came shortly after NBC News published U.S. Census records showing that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, a longtime opponent of government reparations for slavery, is also a descendant of slave owners. But he took a different approach with his slave connection.
In regards to reparations, McConnell told reporters, “I don’t think reparations for something that happened 150 years ago for whom none of us currently living are responsible is a good idea. We’ve tried to deal with our original sin of slavery by fighting a civil war, bypassing landmark civil rights legislation. We’ve elected an African American president.”
What do you think about people in power, having slave owners as direct ancestors? Are you cool with that or nah?