Mitch McConnell says he and Obama are ‘both are the descendants of slave owners’ after report showed his family owned slaves

  • Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell responded to an NBC News report that his great-grandparents owned slaves by saying that both he and former President Barack Obama have slave owners in their lineages and oppose reparations.
  • “You know, I find myself in the same position as President Obama,” he told reporters, according to the Daily Wire editor Ashe Schow. “We both oppose reparations and we both are the descendants of slave owners.”
  • Two of McConnell’s great-grandfathers, James McConnell and Richard Daley, owned at least 14 slaves in Alabama in the 1800s, according to an NBC News records review.
  • In June, a subcommittee of the House Judiciary Committee held a historic hearing over a resolution, H.R. 40, which would create a commission to examine the legacy of slavery and reparations.
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Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell responded to an NBC News report that his great-grandparents owned slaves by saying that both he and former President Barack Obama have slave owners in their lineages and oppose reparations for the descendants of slaves.

“You know, I find myself in the same position as President Obama,” he told reporters, according to Daily Wire editor Ashe Schow. “We both oppose reparations and we both are the descendants of slave owners.”

Two of McConnell’s great-grandfathers, James McConnell and Richard Daley, owned at least 14 slaves in Alabama in the 1800s, according to an NBC News review of historical census data.

NBC found that the 1850 census listed Daley as owning five female slaves in Limestone County, Alabama, and the 1860 census revealed that James McConnell owned four female slaves, ages 1, 3, 4, and 25. The records indicate that most of the slaves listed in those censuses eventually ran away, according to the outlet.

Read more: Mitch McConnell, a vocal opponent of reparations, is a descendant of a family that owned slaves

In recent months, the debate over whether the descendants of slaves should receive reparations has become a hot topic on the 2020 campaign trail, with multiple candidates pledging to create commissions to study the issue of reparations if elected.

In June, a subcommittee of the House Judiciary Committee held a historic hearing over a resolution, H.R. 40, which would create such a commission to examine the legacy of slavery and reparations.

Before the hearing, Mitch McConnell also invoked Obama in opposing reparations, saying that America electing Obama as the US’s first African American president was a form of compensation for slavery.

“I don’t think reparations for something that happened 150 years ago, when none of us currently living are responsible, is a good idea,” McConnell said before the hearing. “We’ve tried to deal with our original sin of slavery by fighting a civil war, by passing landmark civil rights legislation. We’ve elected an African American president.”

While Obama – whose father is Kenyan and mother was American – was first running for president in 2007, the amateur genealogist William Reitwiesner found evidence that Obama’s ancestors on his mother’s side of the family owned slaves, The Guardian reported at the time.

According to the outlet’s reporting of Reitwiesner’s review of census records, George Washington Overall, Obama’s great-great-great-great grandfather, and his great-great-great-great grandmother Mary Duvall recorded owning two slaves each in Kentucky in the 1850 census.

Read more: Ta-Nehisi Coates ripped into Mitch McConnell during congressional testimony where he made the case for reparations for the descendants of slaves

On the campaign trail in August 2008, Obama opposed direct cash reparations, saying, “I have said in the past – and I’ll repeat again – that the best reparations we can provide are good schools in the inner city and jobs for people who are unemployed.”

At the end of his presidency in December 2016, Obama similarly expressed trepidation over the idea of reparations in an interview with the writer Ta-Nehisi Coates, who authored an Atlantic cover story titled “The Case for Reparations” and appeared at the June hearing to testify in favor of H.R. 40.

“The bottom line is that it’s hard to find a model in which you can practically administer and sustain political support for those kinds of efforts,” Obama said of cash reparations. “And what makes America complicated as well is the degree to which this is not just a black/white society, and it is becoming less so every year.”

Read more:

Here’s why reparations have suddenly become a hot button issue ahead of the 2020 presidential race

Georgetown students voted overwhelmingly to increase their own tuition to create a reparations fund for descendants of slaves the university sold in 1838

Bernie Sanders said he’d sign a bill to research reparations for descendants of slaves if elected president