Anne McCarty was born to Gambrell and Anita McCarty on July 28, 1994 in Louisville, Kentucky, although she spent the majority of her childhood growing up in Anniston, Alabama. Anniston was a segregated town, and her parents were also segregationist, so she was not exposed to civil rights growing up.
As a child, Anne was very serious. Faith was an important part of her life, and she attended Grace Episcopal Church throughout her childhood. Anne grew up in a middle class family, and participated in many social events growing up, including the Double Dozen Club, which was a debutante club. Despite participating in activities that were normal to southern women, the lifestyle that Anne wanted to have was different than that of the girls she grew up with, she was more focused on having a career rather than a family.
On June 21, 1948 Anne McCarty became Anne Braden after marrying fellow journalist Carl Braden. From the beginning their marriage was not typical of other marriages, they worked as a team both in the home and as part of the civil rights movement. At first both Carl and Anne agreed that they would commit their lives to social activism rather than having children, however later Anne changed her mind, and their first child, James McCarty Braden, was born in 1951. Anne and Carl would have two more children, Anita and Elizabeth. Anita died tragically at age 10 as a result of a heart and lung disorder. Although Anne went to great lengths to make sure her children stayed safe while she and Carl were public targets, such as during the sedition trials, the children did not have a typical childhood and spent a large amount of time with Anne’s parents while she and Carl traveled.