Beto O’Rourke Says He And His Wife Had Relatives Who Owned Slaves

Isheka N. Harrison
Written by Isheka N. Harrison

Democratic presidential candidate Beto O’Rourke recently revealed he and his wife Amy are descendants of slaveowners, reported The Associated Press (AP).

The former Texas Congressman wrote in an article on Medium that he’d obtained documents revealing he had a great-great-great grandfather named Andrew Cowan Jasper owned two women slaves in the 1850s.

He added that Amy had one ancestor who owned slaves and another who served in the Confederate Army.

While O’Rourke has been an outspoken advocate of reparations, he said the information has made his exploration of America’s legacy of slavery “a much more personal connection.”

Beto O'Rourke
House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio administers a ceremonial re-enactment of the House oath-of-office to Rep. Beto O’Rourke, D-Texas, accompanied by his wife Amy Hoover Sanders, Tuesday, Jan. 6, 2015, on Capitol Hill in Washington. (AP Photo/Cliff Owen)

Listen to GHOGH with Jamarlin Martin | Episode 51: Bärí A. Williams

Part 2. Jamarlin talks to tech attorney and diversity strategist Bärí Williams about the growing gap in big tech regulations between the U.S. and E.U., and why Democrats have been slow in bangin’ against Silicon Valley greed compared to Wall Street greed in 2008. They also discuss reparations and artificial intelligence being weaponized against Black people.

He acknowledged what many white Americans have yet to: being descended from slaveowners has helped his economic position. He said he and other white Americans are still reaping the benefits of slavery today, despite it being more than a century and a half after the institution was abolished. He wrote:

Ownership of other human beings conferred advantages not just to Andrew Jasper and Frederick Williams, but to Jasper’s and Williams’ descendants as well. They were able to build wealth on the backs and off the sweat of others, wealth that they would then be able to pass down to their children and their children’s children. In some way, and in some form, that advantage would pass through to me and my children.

That those enslaved Americans owned by my ancestors were denied their freedom, denied the ability to amass wealth, denied full civil rights in America after slavery also had long term repercussions for them and their descendants.”

After acknowledging the success Blacks have had is due to their resilience despite facing insurmountable odds, O”Rourke candidly said Blacks and whites live in “two different Americas.”

He encouraged others to learn their individual stories to put the national story into context. This is not the first – or only – time O’Rourke has been outspoken about these issues. Last month he said white Americans didn’t know the full story of slavery.

Isheka N. Harrison
Image Attribution: House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio administers a ceremonial re-enactment of the House oath-of-office to Rep. Beto O'Rourke, D-Texas, accompanied by his wife Amy Hoover Sanders, Tuesday, Jan. 6, 2015, on Capitol Hill in Washington. (AP Photo/Cliff Owen), House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio administers a ceremonial re-enactment of the House oath-of-office to Rep. Beto O'Rourke, D-Texas, accompanied by his wife Amy Hoover Sanders, Tuesday, Jan. 6, 2015, on Capitol Hill in Washington. (AP Photo/Cliff Owen)