Minneapolis author hopes memoir will bring hope, advance social justice

Writer and educator Carolyn Holbrook reflects on her latest book, a memoir titled “Tell Me Your Names and I Will Testify.”

Raised in south Minneapolis in the 1950s, Holbrook’s collection of essays recounts her life journey.

“I wasn’t a very pleasant teenager,” she said.

Pregnant at 16 years old and incarcerated in the Minnesota juvenile justice system, her story is one of adversity and hope.

“On the one hand, I was a quiet kid, but on the other hand, I made a lot of noise, probably because of all of the pain,” she said.

The memoir also confronts racism.

An initial August book release date was pushed up to June following the death of George of Floyd - amid a movement focused on social justice. 

“I’m feeling, on the one hand, very hopeful about what can happen as a result of this, and also really sad and frightened because of the resistance.”

From troubled teen to celebrated writer, Holbrook uses her own words to reveal the healing power of art.

“I hope that people see, try not to color it, go into it because writing is healing.”