How did actor Ben Affleck, a California native raised in the Boston area, descend from a Southern slave holder who served as a Georgia sheriff during the Civil War? — Like or Follow on Facebook – no one turned away.
This, after all, is a man who sweats Hollywood self-righteousness, someone who, like too many of his preening peers, seems to have confused celebrity with preaching, being famous for having a mission, stardom with a platform. He never misses a chance to pursue the banal fight: he raises awareness about climate change; he supports gay marriage; and he doesn’t like Republicans. Heck, he’s probably against land mines, too.
So, when it turns out his bloodline contains individuals from the wrong side of history, individuals who have fought the bad fight, Affleck’s is a red face to liberal-bashing bulls.
As many will now know, during the making of an episode of PBS’s ancestry-tracing documentary Finding Your Roots in 2014, it emerged that one of Affleck’s distant relatives, a Benjamin Cole, was a Savannah-based slaveholder. And not just any old slaveholder. He was in ‘the top 10 per cent of slave holders’, a member of the ‘Southern elite’…
Affleck, like many middle-aged men, was not comfortable with this ‘sagging feeling’, and promptly emailed the show’s executive producer, Harvard celebademic Henry Louis Gates Jr, to ask if, uh, ‘that’ could be sent down a memory hole. We know all this because Gates then emailed a Sony executive to ask for advice — an email that, thanks to the North Korean geeks’ Sony hack, has since been Wikileaked to the public. And lo and behold the redacted version of Affleck’s Finding Your Rootshad girdled this part of the family tree. Affleck’s embarrassment had clearly won out
Affleck and Cole — men born more than 150 years apart:
—1857: Benjamin L. Cole of Savannah, Georgia, marries Georgia A. Speissegger. They are Affleck’s great-great-great grandparents. Public records show Cole had been married at least once previously.
—Circa 1862: The Coles have a daughter, Maggie Cole. She is Affleck’s great-great grandmother.
—1894: Affleck’s great grandfather, Lawrence L. Roberts, is born in the District of Columbia to Margaret Roberts (formerly Cole) and Flournoy Roberts, both originally from Georgia.
— 1921: Affleck’s grandmother, Elizabeth N. Roberts, is born in New York to Lawrence Roberts and Margaret Roberts.
—1942: Affleck’s mother, Chris Ann Boldt, is born to Elizabeth N. Boldt (formerly Roberts) and O’Brien Boldt.
—1972: Ben Affleck is born to Timothy and Chris Ann Affleck (formerly Boldt) in Berkeley, California.
What’s odd is that Affleck is not a stupid man, despite all the films to the contrary. He knows he is not responsible for the actions of Benjamin Cole. He knows he should no more be damned for having a slaveholding relative than Kenneth B Morris should be praised for being abolitionist Frederick Douglass’s great-great-great grandson. These are biological facts, not personal achievements.
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