Edward Norton Felt Uncomfortable After Discovering That His Ancestors Owned Slaves


Edward Norton expressed discomfort after discovering that his ancestors owned a family of slaves, including five young girls.

In the latest preview of the PBS show “In Search of Roots“, in which many celebrities delve into the history of their family, you can see how the “Glass Bow” actor reacts to disturbing news.

The Norton clip features a photo of a father, mother and their five little girls aged four, six, eight, nine and 10.

The show’s host, Henry Louis Gates Jr., then tells Norton that his ancestors owned the family as slaves before asking the actor, “How does it feel to see?”

Norton replies: “Short answer: these things are uncomfortable, and you should be uncomfortable with them. Everyone should be uncomfortable.

“This is not a judgment about you and your own life, but a judgment about the history of this country. It must first be recognized, and then it must be fought.”

Norton continues: “When you get away from the census and personalize things, you’re probably talking about a husband and wife with five girls — and those girls are slaves. Born into slavery.

Gates Jr. adds: “Born in slavery and in slavery forever,” to which Norton replies, “Yes. Again, when you read “a slave at the age of eight,” you just want to die.”

Norton’s discovery came after news that Benedict Cumberbatch’s family may face reparations from the government of Barbados because of the history of slavery.

Cumberbatch has long discussed his family’s ties to the slave trade, previously talking about how the history of his ancestors led him to roles in the films Amazing Grace and 12 Years a Slave, both of which were devoted to this issue.

According to The Daily Telegraph, Joshua Cumberbatch, Benedict’s seventh great-grandfather, bought the Cleland plantation in Barbados in 1728, which was home to 250 slaves and was open for more than 100 years before the abolition of the death penalty.

David Craig, a senior official on the island involved in the national reparations commission, said the department is at the “very early stage” of trying to get damages from the Cumberbatch family.


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