Edward Norton, Julia Roberts on Slavery Ancestry – The Hollywood Reporter

Edward Norton said that the discovery of one of the Negroes enslaved by his ancestors was a “nasty” fact that “needs to be acknowledged” and fought for.

The Onion star and Oscar winner discovered ancestral connection in PBS season 9 premiere’ Find your origin. The episode featured Julia Roberts, host Henry Louis Gates Jr. revealed that Norton’s third great-grandfather, John Winstead, had a record of owning slaves in the 1850 North Carolina census.

Disclosure – coincides with Norton learning of being a direct descendant of the Native American historical figure Pocahontas as well as a wealthy iron-turned Confederate soldier who wrote letters to Abraham Lincoln and a late 19th-century pro-union labor activist participating in the Pullman Strike – was something Norton said annoyed him but that had to be addressed.

“The short answer is that these are uncomfortable and you should be uncomfortable with them. People should feel uncomfortable with it,” said Norton above Find your origin. “It’s not a judgment on you and your own life, it’s a judgment on the history of this country and that needs to be acknowledged first, then debated. “

Roberts also learned that her ancestor, her fourth great-grandfather Edward Townsend, owned slaves on a 2,000-acre farm. It’s something she claims to have originated in her Georgia. “You have to figure if you’re from the South, you’re on one side or the other,” Roberts said on the show. However, she says it’s important to “understand” and “not shy away”.

“You can’t turn your back on history even if you become a part of it in a way that doesn’t fit your personal compass,” said the actress, whose family is also directly connected with Martin Luther King, Jr. his family said.

In the episode, Gates – who says Norton is more willing to detail his past “than any other guest I can remember” – also confirms something the actor believes is legendary: his relationship with the daughter of Wahunsenacawh, a leader of the Powhatan. , an Algonquian-speaking confederacy from Tsenacommacah, Tidewater region in Virginia.

“I understand it’s a family legend. Well, it’s absolutely true,” Gates said of the “direct paper trail” linking Norton to the celebrity. “John Rolfe and Pocahontas were married on April 5, 1614. Shakespeare died in 1616, just to make this clear.”

“This is the farthest you can go, unless you’re a Viking,” Norton joked. “Makes you realize you are a small part of the whole human story.”


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