Campus News

Film Tells Anne Braden's Tale of Civil Rights Fight

LEXINGTON, Ky. (Nov. 18, 2010) − Louisville native Anne Braden was a consummate advocate of racial equality.

The civil rights activist, raised in rigidly segregated Anniston, Ala., grew up in a white middle-class family that accepted southern racial morals wholeheartedly.

"I grew up in a totally segregated world," she said an interview. "I was very religious and took the Bible seriously. The world around me didn’t jive with my religious faith."

While segregation always bothered Anne Braden, it wasn't until she began her journalism career and met her husband Carl Braden that she became champions of the civil rights movement. Little did Anne Braden know that she and her husband's support would result in sedition charges and accusations of Communist affiliation.

The University of Kentucky and Lexington community will have the chance to hear Braden's story at the African American Studies and Research Program's third "Fall 2010 Dialogues in Race Film Series: Sisters in the Struggle," from
4:30-6 p.m. on Thursday, Nov. 18, in the Martin Luther King Cultural Center, located in Room 133 of UK's Student Center.

Braden, a lifelong campaigner, became embroiled in one of Louisville’s most notorious incidents of race-based violence when she and her husband, were asked to buy a house in an all-white neighborhood in order to resell it to the Wade's, a young black family in the area.

The house was bombed, and the Braden's were branded Communist conspirators and tried for sedition in 1954.

"Desegregation linked neatly with anti-communism hysteria in the country, and it gave southern segregationists something national and patriotic to tie into," said Braden. "They thought that if someone is challenging your way of life, it must be some foreign idea stirring people up. It's not a real problem."

Anne Braden received the American Civil Liberties Union’s first Roger Baldwin Medal of Liberty in 1990 for her contributions to civil liberties. As she aged, her activism focused more on Louisville, where she remained a leader in anti-racist drives and taught social justice history classes at local universities. Anne Braden died on March 6, 2006.

The Anne Braden Institute for Social Justice Research was established at the University of Louisville in November, 2006 and was officially opened on April 4, 2007. The institute focuses on social justice globally, but concentrates on the southern United States and the Louisville area.

Over her nearly six decades of activism, her life touched almost every modern U.S. social movement, and her message to them all was the centrality of racism and the responsibility of whites to combat it.

Kentucky women experienced the civil rights movement differently, and AASRP chose to focus on the role of gender and race in this particular era of Kentucky history, according to AASRP Director Sonja Feist-Price.

"We'll be talking about what it must have been like to be part of the civil rights movement in Kentucky, as well as what these issues mean to us today," said AASRP Director Sonja Feist-Price.

As part of the Civil Rights in Kentucky Oral History Project, the commission, a division of the Kentucky Historical Society, began the oral history project in 1998 to gather stories from the civil rights era in the 1950s and 1960s.

is sponsoring the four-part series this fall, in coordination with the oral history project. Each "Sisters in the Struggle" event will focus on one biography, followed by a question-and-answer session.  

Catherine Fosl
, Director of the University of Louisville Anne Braden Institute for Social Justice Research, will be facilitating the question and answer session following Braden’s video interview.

Fosl is the author of the Anne Braden biography, “Subversive Southerner,” published by the University Press of Kentucky in 2006.  Fosl also co-authored (with Tracy K'Meyer) a recently published 2009 monograph based on the oral history series focused on throughout the Sisters in the Struggle dialogues: "Freedom on the Border: An Oral History of the Civil Rights Movement in Kentucky also published by the University Press of Kentucky.

Preview Braden's interview at
For more information on the "Sisters in the Struggle" series, contact AASRP at (859) 257-3593 or