Some very sad news for Southern progressives: Anne Braden, one of the matriarchs of the Southern progressive movement, passed away in Louisville, Kentucky this morning. You can read a piece by the Louisville Courier-Journal or this piece from the AP, although, as I'm sure is always true, neither story captures the rich life of this tireless advocate for racial, economic, and environmental justice.

Braden and her husband Carl had been active in the Southern movement since the 1940s, and rose to national attention when, in 1954, they challenged segregation in Louisville by buying a house in the white part of town, and then gave it to an African-American family that had been denied from purchasing it.

The house was bombed, both families received numerous death threats, and in the Cold War hysteria of the 50s, Carl was charged for sedition and given a 15-year sentence (later overturned).

Despite the death threats and harassment, the Bradens never left Louisville. Carl died in 1975, and Anne continued her activism right up to the present day, continuing her work for labor and civil rights, and adding issues like environmental justice and gay and lesbian equality. She was also an ocassional contributor to Southern Exposure.

As is always the case, both of the Bradens were considered dangerous radicals in their day, only for their positions to be recognized as right when viewed through the lens of the present. An important lesson to remember for all the "radicals" of our day.

The South has lost a true treasure. A few years ago, Anne gave me one of her tattered, personal copies of The Wall Between -- the book she wrote about their experience in the 1950s. I'll be re-reading that tonight, as well as Catherine Fossl's excellent biography of Braden, "Subversive Southerner."