Anne Braden is best known for a 1954 incident in which she and her husband, Carl, purchased a house in an all-white neighborhood of Louisville and, in a pre-arranged transaction meant to protest segregation in housing, resold it to a black family. Her book The Wall Between (the September 2000 selection of bookclub@ket) tells of the subsequent bombing of the house and the prosecution of the Bradens. Seizing on another inflammatory issue of the time, their opponents attempted to link integration efforts to Communism, and the Bradens were tried—and Carl jailed—on charges of sedition. Meanwhile, the buyer, Andrew Wade, decided to move his young family out of the house because of fear for their safety.
In the decades that followed, Braden continued to be an activist, founding Progress in Education and the Kentucky branch of the Alliance Against Racist and Political Repression to ease the stress of school desegregation in the 1970s.
Braden was born in 1924 in Louisville but grew up in Alabama. After college, she worked as a newspaper reporter in Birmingham, covering the courthouse. The incongruity between the Bible she was reading and the racist practices of her society troubled her, and her beliefs eventually compelled her to leave the deep South. In 1947, she moved to Louisville to work for the Times. She found that although African Americans in Louisville could vote and sit where they wished on buses, race relations were otherwise very similar to what she had experienced farther south. But she also discovered people working through organizations to bring about desegregation and joined in efforts to open up hospitals and schools, leading her to a life of work against racism.
Anne Braden died on March 6, 2006.