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The Family Tree: A Lynching in Georgia, a Legacy of Secrets, and My Search for the Truth

Karen Branan
Atria Books
304 pages

Branan describes her almost twenty-year search behind her grandmother’s casual reply to the query “What is your most unforgettable memory?” The reply was, “The hanging,” which Branan would learn referred to the 1912 lynching of four black residents– a woman and three men – in retaliation for the killing of the sheriff’s nephew. Newly sworn into office, the sheriff – Brandon’s maternal great-grandfather – allowed the lynching, for which no one was ever apprehended. A story of racism, power, jealousy, and greed, The Family Tree transports readers to a small Southern town in trench in racial tension and bound by family ties.  What emerges is a gripping explanation of that awful day in history, but also the crucial issues that follow us in the present.

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