Last week, actor Ben Affleck issued an apology on Facebook after it was revealed he lobbied the filmmakers behind the PBS documentary series "Finding Your Roots" to excise information about one of his slaveholding ancestors.
By doing so, says Reverend Irene Monroe, they're plastering over an essential truth of American history—and, in the process, preventing informed discussion of race issues in America today.
"When we understand American history, Ben Affleck's history of having slaveowners...that's the American story," Monroe said.
"We have a problem with this 'Original Sin,' we want to expunge it," she continued. "We need that discourse on race."
Expunging Affleck's family history from the record also casts doubt on the documentary's host, Henry Louis Gates, Jr., a prominent academic and professor at Harvard. Affleck said originally that Gates decided to exclude the slaveholding family member because there wasn't enough information available about him. But leaked emails reveal that the deletion was about a star-struck Gates placating his famous guest more than anything.
"It's disappointing," said Reverend Emmett G. Price III. "Here's someone I always looked at as an academic hero...to be complicit in this 'whitewashing' of this historical moment, I think that is problematic."
To hear more from Irene Monroe and Emmett G. Price III, tune in to Boston Public Radio above.