Affleck's Slave-Owning Ancestor Also Named Ben
He comes clean about Georgia forebear Benjamin Cole
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 23, 2015 5:23 AM CDT
Ben Affleck arrives at "Project Greenlight Season Four Winner Revealed" on Nov. 7, 2014, in Los Angeles.   (Photo by Richard Shotwell/Invision/AP)

(Newser) – Ben Affleck has named the slave-owning ancestor he was too "embarrassed" to have revealed by PBS' Finding Your Roots, and in an unfortunate coincidence, they share a name. "His name was Benjamin Cole—lived in Georgia on my Mom's side about six generations back," the actor tweeted yesterday. He didn't reveal any more about Cole, but Gawker has obtained a draft of the Finding Your Roots script where Affleck is informed that, according to the 1850 census, Cole, a prominent citizen of Savannah, owned 25 slaves, which put him in the top 10% of slaveholders.

"God. It gives me kind of a sagging feeling to see, uh, a biological relationship to that. But, you know, there it is, part of our history," Affleck responds after learning about Cole, according to the script (which, Gawker notes, reveals that the episode needed a major reworking after Affleck decided he wanted all mention of Cole scrubbed). Finding Your Roots producer Henry Louis Gates Jr., meanwhile, has issued a statement apologizing for not informing PBS of Affleck's request and promising "an increased level of transparency with our co-producing partners," Deadline reports.