Author’s roots expose mixed history
LaGRANGE — On Thursday, residents of Troup County and the surrounding area crowded into one of the LaGrange Memorial Library classrooms to hear author Karen Branan discuss the topic of race and what she found when she researched her family tree.
Branan’s book, “Family Tree,” talks about what she discovered when she began to investigate a 1912 lynching of a woman and three men by a mob in Hamilton. Through her research, Branan found family ties to both perpetrators and victims of the crime, as well as other crimes that had gone unreported at the time.
“I had to do it,” said Branan on publishing her book. “Once I knew what it was, I couldn’t carry that on my own, and I also felt that I owed it to the descendants of these four people who were completely innocent. And I owed it to history. I think it’s time for us to start taking a hard, honest look at history. We’ve covered up too much, and that’s the cause of a lot of our difficulties today.”
Branan cited hopes for improving race relations through understanding each other’s different historical narratives as her goal with the publication of the book.
“I think by us talking together, we can find our share of our history,” said Valerie West, who works in the Troup County County Commissioners’ Office and attended the talk.
Branan emphasized the importance of having a place to come together to discuss family and community history in order to gain perspective on our own family trees. A large portion of Branan’s research relies on the oral narrative of people who were around at the time of the lynching because there was so little written about it.
“We are hoping to form a community initiative,” said Kathryn Adams, a manager at the library. “This is one of I hope many workshops and presentations.”
More information about Branan’s book and future events can be found on her website, www.karenbranan.com.