This is the second of two posts. For the first, please read this one first.
The next episode for the Bradens, one which spiraled them into the national spotlight occurred in 1954. To help an African-American couple suffering from the Jim Crow laws they bought a house in an all-white neighborhood near Shively for the couple to live in. Neighbors burned a cross in the front yard and shot out the windows. When this didn’t force the family out, they later blew the house up with dynamite.
The investigation, fueled by McCarthy fervor saw the Bradens’ and other so-called Communists charged with “planning the explosion to stir up trouble between the races and to promote communism.” Carl was eventually found guilty and sentenced to 16 years in jail. The conviction was later overturned.
Anne Barden was ostracized from even liberal white circles, but continued until near her death in 2006 to advocate for social justice including issues such as gay rights.
The bravery of a white person to stand up to the ruling white community is a staggering concept, but that a woman was able to do this and face those in authorities with such conviction is a stunning testimonial and an example to us all.
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).