Edward Norton learns his ancestors were slave owners amid Benedict Cumberbatch's reparations claim

Edward Norton learns his ancestors were slave owners amid Benedict Cumberbatch's reparations claim
Edward Norton has found out that his ancestors were slave owners after it was revealed that Benedict Cumberbatch's family may have to pay reparations for their links to the slave trade (Jon Kopaloff, David Livingston/Getty Images)

COLUMBIA, MARYLAND: 'Glass Onion' actor Edward Norton learned on a television program that his ancestors had owned slaves. This came after it was revealed that fellow actor Benedict Cumberbatch was facing a reparations claim regarding his slave-owning ancestors. His ancestors once owned 250 slaves and ran a plantation in Barbados; they are now demanding compensation.

The 53-year-old actor felt "uncomfortable" when historian Henry Louis Gates Jr first revealed the information to him in a preview for PBS' Finding Your Roots, according to Metro. "What’s it like to see that?" Gates Jr questioned after giving the actor a picture of a seven-person family. “The short answer is, these things are uncomfortable, and you should be uncomfortable with them. Everybody should be uncomfortable with it,” the Fight Club actor replied.

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In the video, the 53-year-old Fight Club star is shown a picture of a 55-year-old guy, a 37-year-old lady, and five girls ages four, six, eight, nine, and ten. While saying these are uncomfortable, Norton added, "It’s not a judgment on you and your own life but it’s a judgment on the history of this country. It needs to be acknowledged first and foremost, and then it needs to be contended with." He continued, "When you go away from census counts and you personalize things, you’re talking about, possibly, a husband and wife with five girls – and these girls are slaves. Born into slavery," as reported by Metro. When Gates Jr remarked, "Born into slavery and in slavery in perpetuity," Norton sted, "Yeah, Again, when you read 'slave aged eight,' you just want to die."

As per many reports, Norton is reportedly a member of the affluent Rouse family. His grandfather, James Rouse, was a businessman and real estate tycoon who remodeled American towns in a fashion that continues to be recognizable today.

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This comes in the wake of the allegation that affluent descendants of Benedict Cumberbatch may have to engage in a reparations dispute with the Barbados government. Since becoming a republic in 2021, the Barbados government has been chasing many wealthy descendants of former enslavers and making them pay for their ‘horrific’ family history.

As MEAWW reported earlier, Cumberbatch’s seventh great-grandfather bought the Caribbean nation’s Cleland plantation on the north side of the island in 1728, and owned the land until 1728, the year in which slavery was abolished. In a 2007 interview with New York Times, 'The Imitation Game' star told his mother had suggested he take on his acting career with a stage name just to avoid paying reparations. Interestingly, he pointed out that he accepted the role in '12 Years as a Slave' as he felt sorry for his ancestor's involvement in the slave trade. 

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