Democratic presidential candidate Beto O’Rourke revealed on Sunday that he and his wife Amy are both the descendants of slave owners.
The failed Texas Senate candidate, who is losing ground in the presidential race, made the revelation in a Medium post, saying that he was recently given documents that revealed his family’s past.
“A paternal great-great-great grandfather of mine, Andrew Cowan Jasper, owned these two women in the 1850s,” O’Rourke wrote. “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).”
“Records also showed that Amy had an ancestor who owned slaves and another who was a member of the Confederate Army,” O’Rourke added.
O’Rourke’s claim comes after the media last week tried to tie Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s opposition to reparations to the fact that his great-great-grandfathers owned slaves. When the media tried to push that narrative they were met with the fact that former President Barack Obama’s ancestors were slave owners.
Later in the week, it was revealed that Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Kamala Harris’ (CA) father said that Harris’ ancestors were slave owners.
“I benefit from a system that my ancestors built to favor themselves at the expense of others,” O’Rourke wrote. “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.”
“In addition to making significant changes to education policy (immediately address $23 billion in underfunding for minority-majority public schools), economic policy (ensuring equal pay, deploying capital to minority- and women-owned businesses, $25 billion in government procurement to these same businesses), healthcare (universal healthcare and home health visits to women of color to reverse trend in maternal and infant mortality) and criminal justice (police accountability, ending the drug war, and expunging arrest records for nonviolent drug crimes), I will continue to support reparations, beginning with an important national conversation on slavery and racial injustice,” O’Rourke concluded. “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.”