Anne Braden: an advocate for change

October 1, 2010 in 1950s-1960s, Social history

Anne Braden was born in Louisville, Ky in 1924 but spent most of her childhood in Mississippi and Alabama.  She attended the Randolph-Macon Woman’s college and returned to Kentucky in 1947.  Her occupation at first was reporting for courthouse trials but then took a deeper approach at the injustices and behind the scenes of the courtroom.  She became outraged toward the inequality of African Americans in the court system.  Anne and her husband decided they wanted to advocate for African Americans and be a part of the freedom movement.

Anne worked with the Southern Conference Educational Fund from 1957 to 1973.  This was an interracial organization that was across the South with a mission to bring whites into the civil rights movement.  The SCEF was victim to multiple attacks and most white southerners resented this coalition.  This group has been accredited with the dissolution of the House Un-American Activities Committee in 1975.

Anne was very passionate about helping to overthrow the injustices and inequalities toward African Americans and I think that is an extremely admirable trait considering how dangerous it was during that time to be an advocate of change in the South.  The most famous act of lashing out against the system and showing they wouldn’t stand for these injustices was when the Bradens, in 1954, purchased a house in an all white neightborhood for an African American family.  When the family moved in they were victims of white supremacy and intimidation by burning crosses and setting off bombs in their yard and house.  Anne’s husband was charged with sedition for purchasing the home and was sentenced to 15 years in prison but only served 8 months and was let out on the highest bond ever set in Kentucky. 

Anne also wrote a book in the 1950s about her experiences during this time (The Wall Between) talking about the cruel acts towards African Americans during this time that I think would be a good book for our class to look at. See a book review of the second edition of The Wall Between in the back issue of the PeaceWorks Magazine online at

3 responses to Anne Braden: an advocate for change

  1. So glad to hear you are reading the biography of Anne Braden (Subversive Southerner) by Cate Fosl and enjoying it! It will be wonderful to think more about her oral history interview that’s available on the KET website ( and see how it works as a digital story in comparison to the scholarly text written by a historian (

  2. Anne Braden’s attempt to bring justice in the court system for African American’s was such an important and brave cause to take on. These injustices are clearly shown in the lynchings, which took place throughout Kentucky. Graves county, as we talked about in class, was especially an example of how many more blacks were lynched for their crimes than white.

  3. Bringing to light any injustice and having the bravery to put your own neck on the line for starngers is something that should always be remembered. Anne Braden certainly did just that throughout her life in Louisville. Despite the unjustices , she made it her goal to help as many blacks and whites in her community as possible.

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