Democratic presidential hopeful Beto O’Rourke revealed Sunday he was recently given documents showing he and his wife, Amy, are descendants of slave owners.
O’Rourke, a former congressman from Texas, wrote in a Medium post that the legacy of slavery “now has a much more personal connection.”
O’Rourke said his paternal great-great-great grandfather owned two slaves, Rose and Eliza, in the 1850s, and someone who could be his maternal great-great-great grandfather owned slaves in the 1860s. Documents also show O’Rourke’s wife has an ancestor who owned slaves and another who was a member of the Confederate Army.
“I benefit from a system that my ancestors built to favor themselves at the expense of others. 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,” he wrote.
“As a person, as a candidate for the office of the Presidency, I will do everything I can to deliver on this responsibility,” he continued.
The disclosure comes after the Guardian contacted O’Rourke about his family’s ties to slave holders. O’Rourke told the news outlet that he and his wife had not previously known that part of their families’ histories.
O’Rourke said he continues to support reparations for the descendants of slaves, which has gained popularity among Democratic candidates.
“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,” O’Rourke wrote.
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