Karen Branan discusses her memoir The Family Tree: A Lynching in Georgia, a Legacy of Secrets, and My Search for the Truth
In the tradition of Slaves in the Family, the provocative true account of the hanging of four black people by a white lynch mob in 1912, written by the great-granddaughter of the sheriff charged with protecting them.
Branan spent nearly twenty years combing through diaries and letters, hunting for clues in libraries and archives throughout the United States, and interviewing community elders to piece together the events and motives that led a group of people to murder four of their fellow citizens in such a brutal public display. Her research revealed surprising new insights into the day-to-day reality of race relations in the Jim Crow era South, but what she ultimately discovered was far more personal. As she dug into the past, Branan was forced to confront her own deep-rooted beliefs surrounding race and family, a process that came to a head when Branan learned a shocking truth: she is related not only to the sheriff, but also to one of the four who were murdered.
Karen Branan is a veteran journalist who has written for newspapers, magazines, stage, and television for almost fifty years.