- The Washington Times - Saturday, March 11, 2006

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) — Anne Braden, a longtime civil rights activist best known for trying to dismantle segregation by purchasing a home for a black family in an all-white Kentucky neighborhood in the 1950s, died March 6. She was 81.

Mrs. Braden died at Jewish Hospital, where a spokesman declined to disclose the cause of death, citing federal privacy laws. Her biographer, Catherine Fosl, said Mrs. Braden was admitted to the hospital days earlier with pneumonia and dehydration.

Mrs. Braden, who was white, also was active in anti-war and women’s liberation movements, but it was her efforts in civil rights campaigns that brought her the most attention.

“We have truly lost an icon in this community,” said state Rep. Reginald Meeks, a Louisville Democrat. “I think the influence that she and her husband had reverberated throughout the South.”

In 1954, Mrs. Braden and her husband, Carl, bought a home in southwestern Jefferson County for a black World War II veteran and his family. The family was spurned when attempting to purchase the home. The Bradens used the family’s money to purchase the house, then deeded it to them, Mrs. Fosl said.

A few weeks later, the house was bombed, but nobody was injured.

The Bradens later were charged with sedition, which is speech or conduct inciting rebellion. Mr. Braden was convicted and given a 15-year prison sentence, Mrs. Fosl said. He served seven months before his conviction was overturned.

Mrs. Braden was never tried on the state charge.

The Bradens worked with Martin Luther King and other notable civil rights leaders.

“Her legacy is to have been among the most forceful voices in U.S. history that racial justice is white people’s business, too,” Mrs. Fosl said.

Mr. Braden died in 1975. Mrs. Braden remained active in civil rights and other causes over the years. Last fall, she attended an anti-war demonstration in the District, though she was in a wheelchair, Mrs. Fosl said.

The Bradens were named to the Kentucky Civil Rights Hall of Fame.

Linda Murnane, executive director of the Kentucky Commission on Human Rights, said the Bradens risked their own liberty to promote equal opportunity and equal housing.

Mrs. Braden was born in Louisville but grew up in Alabama. After college, she worked as a newspaper reporter in Birmingham before returning to Louisville in 1947.

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