Anne McCarty Braden was born in Louisville, Kentucky, and grew up in the racially segregated Anniston, Alabama, Her white middle-class family accepted the prevalent southern racial laws. Ms. Braden was a practicing Episcopalian, and while she didn’t accept racial segregation, she only felt she could openly question it when she attended Randolph-Macon Woman’s College in Virginia.
Trained as a journalist, she returned to Kentucky to write for the Louisville Times where she met and married fellow newspaperman Carl Braden, a left-wing trade unionist. They both became active in the civil rights movement at a time when it was unpopular among southern whites and even more so for women.
Anne Braden was arrested for the first time in 1951. Following the sentencing to death of Willie McGee, an African American man convicted of the rape of a white woman, Willette Hawkins. Ms. Braden led a delegation of southern white women organized by the Civil Rights Congress to Mississippi to protest the execution.
I only heard her story this summer when listening to one of my son’s CD’s on our vacation. Much of Ms. Braden’s experience is recorded by the Flobots on their 2007 albumFight With Tools in their tribute to her.
More on the amazing bravery of Anne Braden tomorrow.
Alon Shalev is the author of The Accidental Activist (now available on Kindle) and A Gardener’s Tale. He is the Executive Director of the San Francisco Hillel Foundation, a non-profit that provides spiritual and social justice opportunities to Jewish students in the Bay Area. More on Alon Shalev at http://www.alonshalev.com/and on Twitter (#alonshalevsf).