In an email to supporters, Beto O'Rourke says he's descended from slave owners

Texas Tribune News

Former Texas congressman Beto O'Rourke.
Former Texas congressman Beto O’Rourke.
USA TODAY NETWORK/Anthony Merriweather / The Tennessean via REUTERS

Democratic presidential candidate Beto O’Rourke on Sunday disclosed that he and his wife are both descended from slave owners.

The former congressman from Texas said the revelation “only increases the urgency I feel to help change this country so that it works for those who have been locked-out of — or locked-up in — this system.”

O’Rourke revealed the information in an email to supporters around the same time The Guardian posted a story saying it informed O’Rourke that “abundant documentation exists of his and his wife Amy’s ancestors’ slave-owning and their support for the Confederacy.” O’Rourke told the newspaper that his family knew nothing about the ties until The Guardian contacted him.

In the email, he revealed that he was given documents showing that his paternal great-great-great grandfather had two women, Rose and Eliza, listed as possessions.

“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,” he wrote. “In some way, and in some form, that advantage would pass through to me and my children

He added, “I benefit from a system that my ancestors built to favor themselves at the expense of others. That only increases the urgency I feel to help change this country so that it works for those who have been locked-out of — or locked-up in — this system.

As a person, as a candidate for the office of the Presidency, I will do everything I can to deliver on this responsibility.”

This developing story will be updated soon.