Ancestry.com apologized Thursday for a controversial advertisement published to its YouTube channel earlier this month. The ad appeared to show a white man trying to convince a black woman in what appears to be in the antebellum South to head North with him to get married. It received immediate backlash online, with many people claiming the ad ignores the violent history of slavery.
The ad — called “Inseparable” — was uploaded to Ancestry’s channel at the beginning of the month. The caption of the video described the two actors in the video as “lovers.”
“Abigail,” the man says as he shows her what appears to be a wedding ring. “We can escape to the North. There’s a place we can be together, across the border.”
The woman attempts to respond, but the man interrupts, asking “Will you leave with me?”
Much of the online criticism of the ad focused on its romanticization of interracial relationships in the slave-owning South. Many pointed out that rape — not love — is the main reason why many black Americans have white ancestry.
Following the extensive online backlash, Ancestry — a popular site for tracing family history — has removed the ad. “Ancestry is committed to telling important stories from history,” the company said in a statement to CBS News Thursday.
“This ad was intended to represent one of those stories,” the statement said. “We very much appreciate the feedback we have received and apologize for any offense that the ad may have caused. We are in the process of pulling the ad from television and have removed it from YouTube.”
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