Anne Braden and the Role of Individuals and Religious Institutions in Racial Justice Organizing
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Anne Braden (July 28, 1924 – March 6, 2006) became active in the civil rights movement in 1948 and remained active in racial and social justice work until her death in 2006. Louisville, Kentucky was Anne’s home for most of her adult life. Braden’s work on organizing and educating white people in her community for racial justice was my entry point for learning about her. While researching Braden for previous assignments, I found that she had a critical relationship with Christian practice. She was raised in a social gospel-based Episcopal tradition, but chose to break away from the church due to her dissatisfaction with its lack of concrete action addressing poverty in the South– inaction regarding racism and white supremacy would later emerge as additional reasons she continued to distance herself from Episcopalian practice. In 1951, Braden joined a Louisville congregation after the Reverend Albert Dalton convinced her to rejoin the Episcopal Church to be an internal agent of reform. While she remained in the Episcopal tradition for the rest of her life, the relationship between organized practice and Braden’s personal religiosity has yet to be unpacked and analyzed through different theoretical lenses or examined in the context of broader social trends in the South and the greater United States towards the end of the 20th century.