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September's Book
The Wall Between
- by Anne Braden

Back cover

I found it one of the most moving documents that I have ever read. I feel that it will live to become a classic on the southern situation.
    -- Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., on the first edition

In 1954, Anne and Carl Braden bought a house in an all-white neighborhood in Louisville, Kentucky, on behalf of a black couple, Andrew and Charlotte Wade. The Wall Between is Anne Braden's account of what resulted from this act of friendship: mob violence against the Wades, the bombing of the house, and imprisonment for her husband on charges of sedition.

A finalist for the 1958 National Book Award, The Wall Between is one of only a few first-person accounts from civil rights movement activists -- even rarer for its author being white. Offering an insider's view of movement history, it is as readable for its drama as for its sociological importance. It contains no heroes or villains, according to Braden -- only people urged on by forces of history that they often did not understand.

In an epilogue written for this edition, the author traces the lives of the Bradens and Wades subsequent to events in the original book and reports on her and her husband's continuing activities in the civil rights movement. Looking back on that history, she warns readers that the entire nation must still do what white southerners who became activists had to do in the 1950s and 1960s: turn its values, assumptions, and policies upside down.

In his foreword to this edition, Julian Bond reflects on the significance of the events Anne Braden describes and the importance of the work the Bradens and others like them undertook. What is missing today, he observes, is not Wades who want a home but Bradens who will help them fight for one. Today, he says, "ending racism is largely the segregated concern of Blacks alone."

The author: Anne Braden was born in Louisville, Kentucky, and grew up in Alabama. She began a career as a newspaper reporter, but for fifty years has been a journalist for social-justice movements, working throughout the South with the Southern Conference Educational Fund (SCEF) and, more recently, the Southern Organizing Committee for Economic and Social Justice (SOC). She is a visiting professor at Northern Kentucky University, teaching civil rights history.

Other Comments

These events are recounted with quietness but with the conviction that 'it is white men who built the wall [between the races], and it is they who must take the initiative if the trust is to be reestablished.'
-- The American Library Association's Booklist

This is a most remarkable story, written by a woman who has achieved an objectivity which is extraordinary.
-- Eleanor Roosevelt

No other writer has managed so well to portray the soul of the South as it seeks to work out the problem of the relationship of the races.
-- Dallas Times Herald

It is a sober, reflective examination of a racial and ideological crisis in Louisville with the filled-in intimate details from the viewpoint of one vitally involved.... She is compassionate and devoid of bitterness.
-- Louisville Courier-Journal

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