Their Ancestors Were on Opposite Sides of a Lynching. Now, They’re Friends.

The book Karen Branan, a white journalist from Georgia, wrote about a 1912 lynching in Georgia, in which her family members participated, was read by Jackie Jordan Irvine, an black Alabama native and a professor emeritus of urban education at Emory University, who discovered that she was related to one of the victims who was hanged. The discovery brought the women together.

“Ms. Branan said that the story of the lynching her family was involved in, along with others, was not just a historic tale.

‘The past has not passed. It’s still with us. It’s with us in different forms. Some of those forms are even more pernicious than the old forms. We are living in the past because we have not addressed the past. We have not atoned for the past. We have not even educated ourselves about the past.’

Ms. Irvine:

‘Black lives didn’t matter then in 1912 when they lynched my cousin John Moore. Twenty-one-year-old black men in America, now they’ve been lynched in another kind of way. Even if you didn’t own slaves, even if your family never attended a lynching or watched it or whatever, white people have benefited politically, socially and economically from a system of slavery and oppression from Mississippi to Maine. It’s not to make white people feel guilty, but it’s to accept the privilege that’s been awarded through a system of oppression.’”
To read the complete New York Times article, click here.

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