Edward Norton “uncomfortable” after discovering ancestors owned slaves

"You just want to die"

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

In the latest preview of the PBS show Finding Your Roots, which sees a host of celebrities digging deeper into their family history, the Glass Onion actor is seen reacting to the troubling news.

In the clip, Norton is presented with a photo of a father, a mother, and their five young girls, aged four, six, eight, nine and 10.

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

Norton replies: “The short answer is, these things are uncomfortable, and you should be uncomfortable with them. Everybody should be uncomfortable with it.

“It’s not a judgement on your and your own life but it’s a judgement on the history of this country. It needs to be acknowledged first and foremost, and then it needs to be contended with.”

Edward Norton in Glass Onion
Edward Norton as Myles in ‘Glass Onion’. CREDIT: Netflix

Norton continues: “When you go away from census counts and you personalise things, you’re talking about, possibly, a husband and wife with five girls – and these girls are slaves. Born into slavery.’

Gates Jr adds: “Born into slavery and in slavery in perpetuity,” to which Norton responds: “Yeah. Again, when you read ‘slave aged eight,’ you just want to die.”

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Norton’s discovery comes after the news that Benedict Cumberbatch’s family could face reparations from the Barbados government due to history of slave ownership.

Cumberbatch has long discussed his family’s links to the slave trade, previously addressing how his ancestral story led him to take roles in the films Amazing Grace and 12 Years A Slave, both of which focused on the matter.

As reported by The Daily Telegraph, Joshua Cumberbatch, the seventh great-grandfather of Benedict, bought the Cleland plantation on Barbados in 1728, which was home to 250 slaves and open for over 100 years before abolition.

David Comissiong, a top official on the island who is involved in the national commission for reparations has stated that the department is in the “earliest stages” of trying to seek reparations from the Cumberbatch family.

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