It is a gift to all people who read books and learn from them that author Karen Branan had the skills and heart to pursue the truth when she discovered a horrible crime in her family’s history. In 1912 in Harris County, Georgia, three black men and one woman, all innocent, were lynched under the watch of the county sheriff, Branan’s great- grandfather.
From the moment she first heard a vague story about “the hanging” from her grandmother, Branan began her investigation. She learned she is related not only to the sheriff, but also to one of the four who were murdered—her personal history contains both perpetrator and victim.
Her newly published book, “The Family Tree: A Kinship Lynching in Georgia, a Legacy of Secrets, and My Search for the Truth,” takes on the essential and necessary task of digging deeply into the psyche of this country to understand the present manifestations of racism. She says that her 20 years of research “made me aware that these long-repressed horrors have seeped into our cells and have more to do with our lives today and our country’s racial turmoil than most are willing to recognize.”
Branan, who lived in Minneapolis and taught at the U of M’s experimental college, is a seasoned journalist, a yoga practitioner, a student of Jung and a member of the group Coming To The Table, which seeks to acknowledge and heal wounds from racism that is rooted in the United States’ history of slavery.
She will read from “Family Tree” Saturday, Feb. 13, 2 p.m., at Park Avenue Freedom School at Park Avenue UMC, 3400 Park Avenue (612-825-6863); and Tuesday, Feb. 16, 7 p.m., at Magers & Quinn Bookstore, 3038 Hennepin Ave., Mpls. 55408 (612-822-4611); and Wednesday, Feb. 17, 7 p.m., at the Birchwood Café, 3311 E. 25th St. (612-722-4474).
She will be heard in interviews on KFAI: Thursday, Feb. 11, Don Olson live from Raleigh, N.C., 9 to 10 a.m.; Monday, Feb. 15, Tom O’Connell, “Truth to Tell” on KFAI, 9 to 10 a.m.