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. “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.
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. “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.
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.”
Mcconnell Equates His Ancestors’ Slave Ownership To Obama’s:
"We both oppose reparations and we both are the descendants of slaveholders." pic.twitter.com/qceE7KSGjz 
— Breaking911 (@Breaking911) July 9, 2019