Ancestry.com pulls ad amid online backlash

Ancestry.com pulls ad amid online backlash
© Ancestry.com

Ancestry.com apologized Thursday and took down a controversial ad that depicted an interracial couple discussing the possibility of fleeing to the north during the Civil War era after backlash online.

The ad, originally posted on the company's YouTube page earlier this month, depicted two "lovers" (according to the ad's caption) running through the streets of a city in the 19th century American South, before stopping to discuss the possibility of heading north.

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"Abigail," the white man in the ad says to the woman, who is black. "We can escape to the North. There's a place we can be together, across the border."

"Will you leave with me?" he asks as the ad fades to black while showing the text, "without you, the story stops here."

Critics of the ad said that it whitewashed history, inaccurately portraying the rape of slaves by slaveowners as a consensual relationship.

"What the hell is this @Ancestry? Why do white people insist on romanticizing my Black female ancestors experiences with white men during slavery?" wrote Bishop Talbert Swan, a regional president of the NAACP.

"They were raped, abused, treated like animals, beaten, and murdered by white men. Stop with the revisions."

The company apologized "for any offense that the ad may have caused" in a statement Thursday to BuzzFeed News, and the ad could no longer be found on Ancestry's YouTube page.

"Ancestry is committed to telling important stories from history," the company said. "This ad was intended to represent one of those stories. We very much appreciate the feedback we have received and apologize for any offense that the ad may have caused."