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Award winning website: resource on Anne Braden

October 20, 2014 in 1920s-30s, 1940s-1950s, Oral history, Political history

In April 2012 at Kentucky’s District 3 finals for National History Day, Katy Campbell and Nick Tehrani from the Academy for Individual Excellence in Louisville won first place for their website: “Anne Braden: Advocate, Radical, and Revolutionary.”

The website opens with a slideshow and a recording of “Anne Braden” by the Flobots, an American rock and hip hop musical group from Colorado (the Flobots online radio segment “White Flag Warrior” is available free at Jango) – you can see the powerful lines of the song at AZ Lyrics.

Anne Braden

Click image above to go to the students’ award-winning website on Anne Braden

The website contains the following segments:

  • Young Life
  • Escape Route
  • The Wade Case
  • Continued Activism
  • Legacy
  • Media
  • Credits

This is a terrific resource for young readers and highly recommended by Dr. Cate Fosl, director of the Anne Braden Institute for Social Justice Research in Louisville.

EXTRA EXTRA Anne Braden Headlines

April 25, 2013 in 1950s-1960s, Political history

What would YOUR newspaper headline be?

 

Little woman, big heart, megaphone voice for Civil Liberties…

Anne and Carl Braden promote unity within the community…

Braden continues to defy all social norms…

Anne Braden revolutionizes civil rights communication with newspaper southern patriot…

The Other America, reflecting on a lifelong activist who break social norms…

 

 

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by emme23

A Southern Patriot

April 18, 2013 in 1950s-1960s, Oral history, Social history

In the past few weeks my partner and I have made great strides in researching for our project on Anne Braden. The hardest part about researching Anne is not finding information — in fact, there is so much information it is a little overwhelming — but rather figuring out what information is the most important to focus on. I just finished reading the book Subversive Southerner in depth, as well carefully watching the documentary Southern Patriot. We were especially privileged because this week Cate Fosl spoke to our class and we were able to learn some amazing things about Anne firsthand. We are very lucky she was able to talk to our class and I am so grateful for the opportunity.

The best part about researching an important person in history is that after a while you don’t feel like you are just reading about events, but you actually get to know the person. I think Anne is one of the most amazing people I’ve read about and it makes me sad that she isn’t mentioned more often on a national level in connection with the civil rights movement.

Carl and Anne Braden after his release from prison in July 1955.

A few notes on my favorite things about Anne: Her feminism in a time when feminism wasn’t as prevalent as it was in later decades. Even after having children, Anne did not give up her career to become a stay at home mom as many other women did. She found a way to balance her career and her home life. Second, her career in journalism. At the time female journalists weren’t very common, but that didn’t stop her from working for multiple newspapers. As a female student with an interest in journalism, I really enjoyed learning about how she approached writing for the paper and how she used it not only as a way to report on the news, but also as an oppertunity to record oral history. Third, her relationship with husband Carl Braden. Anne and Carl’s relationship is not your typical 50s love story, but that is what makes it so interesting. Its easy to tell how much they loved each other just by looking at looking at photos of them together. The fact that they were able to work so well together is part of the reason their efforts towards fair housing were so successful.

 

 

I Shared The Dream: Georgia Davis Powers & Others

March 31, 2013 in 1940s-1950s, 1950s-1960s, 1960s-1970s, Intellectual history, Oral history, Political history, Social history

After reading Georgia Davis Powers’ autobiography, I Shared the Dream: The Pride, Passion, and Politics of the First Black Woman Senator from Kentucky, my group led a book discussion on the most important themes and events addressed in the book. Most prominently, my group agreed that Georgia Davis Powers sought to portray herself as a real woman, someone who faces adversity and obstacles and makes conscious choices regarding her life which may not be seen in the public eye. In the book, Powers addresses her life and achievements but also her personal reflections on situations and relationships that had not been published until this book was written. My class has studied numerous influential women in Kentucky during the Civil Rights Movement and was able to draw important similarities between Senator Powers and other major figures.

The charts below represent a comparison of Georgia Davis Powers, Mae Street Kidd, and one other prominent figure of the student’s choosing. These diagrams intend to show relationships among the female leaders of the Civil Rights Movement in Kentucky as well as highlight key differences in their tactics and methodology.

Scan0006 Scan0007 Scan0008  Scan0011 Scan0010

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Anne Braden – A Project in Progress

March 24, 2013 in Research methods

Anne Braden

Anne Braden

I’ve been working with Emme23 on a project about Anne Braden for the Kentucky Civil Rights Hall of Fame. For the most part, this project has been wildly successful. Our main issue has been sorting through the wide array of information available about Anne Braden’s life and career. We are using many different resources, including Subversive Southerner, a biography by  Catherine Fosl, as well as Southern Patriot, a movie about Anne Braden’s life. In addition to both these incredible sources, we have discovered many online resources as well.

Our next step is to visit the University of Louisville and their Anne Braden Institute for Social Justice Research. While we’re at the University of Louisville, we are hoping to speak with Catherine Fosl. She wrote Anne Braden’s biography, and we are hoping to use her as a resource to help us sort through the plethora of information available about Anne Braden. Hopefully Dr. Fosl will help us to sort through the information to choose the most important parts of Anne Braden’s life to focus on for the Hall of Fame.

Hyperlinks used in the above narrative:

Women’s Influence in Post-WWII Civil Rights Movement

March 4, 2013 in 1940s-1950s, Oral history, Political history, Social history

“Women polish the silver and water the plants and wait to be really needed.”

~Mignon McLaughlin, The Neurotic’s Notebook, 1960

While this quote seems a little extreme, I think it is fitting for the discussion of women as a part of the Civil Rights Movement following World War II. During this time period, women stepped up as leaders in their communities – they became the heads of NAACP chapters in their towns, they spearheaded protests such as sit-ins, and were great advocates for educational reform. Women who had previously been counted on solely in their own homes were now of great use to the general community.

Anne Braden

Women such as Anne Braden, an active Civil Rights Leader for many years throughout Kentucky, were critical to the many developments in racial relations that occurred throughout the United States following World War II.

Another such woman was Mae Street Kidd, who stepped up as a legislator, leader, and role model for women everywhere. Helen Fisher Frye‘s story of influence was included in Chapter 3 of Freedom on the Border.  Her oral history details her influence as the President of the NAACP in Danville, Kentucky.

Another area in which women demonstrated their abilities following World War II was in organizing protests. The 1964 March on Frankfort was attended by many notable Kentucky women, including two who give Oral History accounts detailed on page 112-113 of Freedom on the Border.

In addition, many student led organizations were spearheaded by women following World War II. Several of the Oral Histories in chapter 3 of Freedom on the Border are accounts by female students, such as Helen Fisher Frye and Anna Beason speak on their influence and participation in protests and organizations for Civil Rights.

All in all, the Civil Rights movement was greatly affected by a great number of women in a variety of ways. They led campaigns, held offices, led NAACP chapters and other local organizations, organized protests, influenced students, participated in national marches, and changed the face of the Civil Rights movement. Without the influence and determination of women such as these, the Civil Rights Movement would not have been as successful as it was, and our nation would not be where it is today.

“Women really do rule the world.  They just haven’t figured it out yet.  When they do, and they will, we’re all in big big trouble.”  ~Unknown

Resources:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anne_Braden

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mae_Street_Kidd

http://books.google.com/books?id=kBN_GwAACAAJ&dq=Mignon+McLaughlin&hl=en&sa=X&ei=OgU2UZPJNqfh0QGvuYD4DQ&ved=0CDAQ6AEwAA

http://www.uky.edu/Libraries/NKAA/record.php?note_id=764

http://books.google.com/books/about/Freedom_on_the_Border.html?id=bnj0JHhoZ4oC

http://media.concreteloop.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/02/braden1.gif

http://owl.library.louisville.edu/2005/Owl0205.pdf

http://www.quoteidea.com/authors/doctor-leon-of-drleonscom-quotes

Post WWII Protests by Women

March 4, 2013 in 1940s-1950s, 1950s-1960s, Political history, Social history

Mae Street Kidd

After WWII there was certainly a larger push for civil rights because as we were fighting for democracy and against genocide overseas, we began to more readily question our nation’s own race relations. Kentucky women that got involved in this process made huge contributions to the civil rights movement and also to the progression of this country’s views on prejudice. An example of this is opening public institutions to blacks as well as whites. An example of the injustices in an incident that was reported by Anne Braden, of Louisville, KY who witnessed two blacks who were seriously injured being dropped off outside a hospital that didn’t admit blacks and said “They let them lie there, on the waiting room floor and one of them died. There were a lot of incidents like that.” After this case and many others though, women, in this case Mary Agnes Barnett, worked to pass legislation to require public hospitals to provide emergency care to blacks. This eventually expanded to the voluntary treatment of blacks in hospitals in Kentucky.

Another example would be Mae Street Kidd, who worked in the time period, primarily in the Kentucky government as well, to provide fair housing to those in lower income brackets, which primarily encompassed blacks. Of course these are only two examples, but there are many women who also followed in these footsteps to increase equality for blacks after WWII. In both of these cases we see women who are fighting the status quo in order to build a more equal and fair community for all races. While here there was only mention of hospitals and housing, hundreds of other facilities were integrated more fully in this time. For example, theaters, restaurants and schools. Even today, with almost every public institution in Kentucky integrated, there are still pushes for more equal distribution of resources and equal opportunity.

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“World War II.” History.com. A&E Television Networks, n.d. Web. 04 Mar. 2013. <http://www.history.com/topics/world-war-ii>.

“Genocide.” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, 03 Apr. 2013. Web. 04 Mar. 2013. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Genocide>.

“Anne Braden.” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, 03 Apr. 2013. Web. 04 Mar. 2013. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anne_Braden>.

“Mae Street Kidd.” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, 03 Apr. 2013. Web. 04 Mar. 2013. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mae_Street_Kidd>.

Fosl, Catherine, and Tracy Elaine. K’Meyer. Freedom on the Border: An Oral History of the Civil Rights Movement in Kentucky. Lexington, KY: University of Kentucky, 2009. Print.

Kidd, Mae Street, and Wade H. Hall. Passing for Black: The Life and Careers of Mae Street Kidd. Lexington: University of Kentucky, 1997. Print.

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by emme23

Defying Norms, Ending Injustice

February 26, 2013 in 1940s-1950s, 1950s-1960s, Social history

In The Maid Narratives, there is a section containing interviews from white families titled “Defiance of the Norms to Stand Up against Injustice.” These narratives include stories from families who treated their help as if they too were part of the family. One man writes about attending his brothers wedding and how his maid, Anna, sat right next to his mother during the ceremony. Another narrative, From Elise Talmage of New Orleans, tells of how her family’s maid would enter the front door every morning and eat at the table with the family and their company. Though it was customary in the south for maids to enter the back door and eat alone, this family defied the boundaries of race by letting her act as only white people were expected to.

Similar the Talmages, Anne Braden was a woman who defied cultural restrictions and fought against prejudice. Among her many efforts as a civil rights activist, she promoted the desegregation of hospitals in Kenutcky, and was a leader as part of the Civil Rights Congress. However, Anne’s most notable act that involved defying norms and standing up against injustice involved the Wade Case. In the 1950s, the city of Shively in Jefferson County was primarily a suburb for whites, and African-Americans were not allowed to purchase homes. Andrew and Charlotte Wade, an African-American couple, had attempted to purchase a house in the neighborhood but had not been successful because of their race. Anne and her husband Carl decided to purchase the house for the Wades since they were unable to. This let to an enormous amount of violence towards both the Bradens and the Wades. The Wades house was eventually dynamited, and the Bradens were accused of communism and blacklisted from local work. These setbacks did not stop the Bradens however, and they continued to fight for equality.

The Wade’s bombed house in 1957.

After analyzing all of these stories, it is important that we realize all contributions, no matter how big or small, played an important role in changing cultural standards and promoting integration. Even the smallest acts, such as letting a black maid enter your home by way of the front door, made a big difference in someone’s life.

***

“Anne Braden.” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, 16 Feb. 2013. Web. 26 Feb. 2013.

Fosl, Catherine. Subversive Southerner: Anne Braden and the Struggle for Racial Justice in the Cold War South. Houndmills, Basingstoke, Hampshire: Palgrave Macmillan, 2002. Print.
Van, Wormer Katherine S., David W. Jackson, and Charletta Sudduth. The Maid Narratives: Black Domestic and White Families in the Jim Crow South. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State UP, 2012. Print.

Cognitive Dissonance in the Jim Crow South

February 25, 2013 in 1950s-1960s, Primary source, Social history

 

The Maid Narratives is a fascinating book that details the lives of servants and other domestic workers under the precedent of the Jim Crow laws in the South. The section of the book that focuses on the white folks’ narratives of the same time and in general the same experiences from a different vantage point, was very difficult for the authors to obtain. The reason for this lies in the difficult emotions that surround this hot topic.

A poem written by Elise Talmage, found on pages 254-255 of The Maid Narratives demonstrates well the sentiments and difficult memories that come with the knowledge that one (or in some cases, one’s parents) contributed to such oppression as occurred in the Jim Crow south. The poem begins:

 Were our sins so scarlet?

 Were our virtues so few?

We remember, we remember

Yellow heads on warm black arms

“Doe doe lil baby

Doe doe lil baby”

Rocking and rocking to soothe little hurts

But did you hurt too and did we know it?

This poem encapsulates the confusion and guilt that accompanies the fond memories of nannies and maids that white folk had as children. As adults, looking back, they can begin to understand that the people they remember fondly as someone who took care of them as they grew up were actually people being underpaid, mistreated, and generally oppressed. There is a cognitive dissonance between the fond memories they hold of their past and the truth that they now know as adults.

Cognitive dissonance is a term that refers to the difference between two ideas that a person holds. For example, frequently, it is difficult for people who were children in the Jim Crow era to comprehend that their parents, especially those whom they viewed as kind hearted Christians, took part in such a systematic oppression of Blacks. There are such stark differences between the ideas of segregation and Christianity, that many are unable to understand how someone could support both. Many whites in the Jim Crow South who supported the Civil Rights Movement did so because of the cognitive dissonance between their religion and segregation.

“The mother who taught me what I know of tenderness and love and compassion taught me also the bleak rituals of keeping Negros in their place.”

– Lillian Smith

Even for those who were not children in the South during this period, there is still a level of cognitive dissonance that occurs. Actions that people viewed as the status quo of the time period can now be viewed as criminal oppression of a race. The guilt associated with this realization is too much for some to handle, and many refuse to speak on the subject. For this reason, the interviews with white families for The Maid Narratives were difficult to obtain.

Anne Braden

Anne Braden came to the realization that segregation was not acceptable quicker than most of her white counterparts, but even she did not challenge the system that bothered her so until she arrived at college at Randolph-Macon Women’s college in Virginia. Her cognitive dissonance was found in the difference between the way she had been raised, in a strictly segregated community, and the teachings of her religion. Anne, a devout episcopalian, eventually realized she could not ignore the differences between what she knew was right and how the world she lived in, the Jim Crow south, functioned. This realization led her to become an activist and supporter of the Civil Rights Movement throughout the rest of her life.

Resources:

Wormer, K. S., & Jackson, D. W. (2012).The maid narratives: black domestic and white families in the Jim Crow South. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anne_Braden

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jim_Crow_laws

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cognitive_dissonance

http://news.iowapublicradio.org/post/maid-narratives

Louisville, Kentucky: Social Segregation

February 3, 2013 in 1940s-1950s, 1950s-1960s, Social history

Image of Freedom on the Border, including Kentucky Oral Histories

Freedom on the Border, including Kentucky Oral Histories

Without a doubt, segregation plagued Kentucky in the mid twentieth century, in cities and rural areas.  In the urban areas, however, segregation infiltrated all public forums and created immense segmentation of communities. In areas such as Louisville, segregation not only limited education and workplaces, but also leisure activities and social environments. In the book Freedom on the Border, an oral history from Eleanor Jordan of Louisville discusses segregation in a local amusement park. She recalls, “We would always ask the same question: “Can we go?” My mother and father would almost simultaneously say, “No, you can’t go.” We’d kind of sit there and then as we passed it, we’d say, “Well, why can’t we go?” That’s when there was just this deafening silence in the car.” (Life under Segregation, 17) This conversation was undoubtedly shared among many African American families in the area whose children experienced similar societal limitations. The children of this era, however, would grow up to live in a society that would not see public equality for quite some time.

Photo of Anne Braden, ALCU

Anne Braden, ALCU

In a similar mode, housing communities were segregated, especially in urban areas such as Louisville, where neighborhoods were in close range of one another. A home should be a beacon of safety, regardless of the location, yet many African American families were forced from their homes and from all-white neighborhoods. Anne and Carl Braden of Louisville attempted to eliminate the housing segregation of the area by purchasing a home in an all-white neighborhood for an African American family to live in. This house was soon bombed, threatening the safety of the family, and placing the blame on Carl Braden for his attempt at integration. At his trial, he was defended by a member of the ALCU, the American Civil Liberties Union, and his conviction was eventually overturned, making headway for the integration of the community and membership in the ALCU. These gains were small, but notable, and were important steps toward equality in Kentucky’s urban areas.

 

 

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Wikipedia contributors. “Anne Braden.” Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, 23 Jan. 2013. Web. 4 Feb. 2013.

Wikipedia contributors. “American Civil Liberties Union.” Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, 27 Jan. 2013. Web. 4 Feb. 2013.

Wikipedia contributors. “History of Louisville, Kentucky.” Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, 30 Jan. 2013. Web. 4 Feb. 2013.

“KET | Living the Story | The Civil Rights Movement in Kentucky.” Glossary, Anne and Carl Braden. Web. 3 February 2013. http://www.ket.org/civilrights/glossary/popup_bradens.htm

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