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Anne Braden Speaks: Selected Writings and Speeches, 1947-1999


Anne Braden was raised to be a southern belle. Instead she became a revolutionary who helped to shape the self-understanding of the entire civil rights movement. From her earliest days as a trade unionist in the radical wing of the Congress of Industrial Organizations, she had been one of a small handful of white Southerners willing to take a stand against Jim Crow in the 1950s. As a journalist throughout the 1960s, she offered a penetrating, historically-grounded analysis of events which was widely read by civil rights activists. She was an informal advisor to Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.; a close associate of key leaders such as Ella Baker, Rev. Fred Shuttlesworth, and Myles Horton; and a mentor to countless young revolutionaries until her death in 2006.

At a time when the North American ruling class went to great lengths to prevent any semblance of continuity between movements, Braden forged direct links between the radical left of the 1930s and 40s, and that of the 1960s. Beginning with her trial for sedition in 1954, she endured constant attacks at the hands of the U.S. government, largely due to her association with Communism. And yet, as deeply as she influenced the development of the early civil rights movement, the scale of Braden’s contributions and insights have either been redacted to meet the needs of the official version of civil rights movement history, or been made palatable to the very same power structure she spent her entire life working to overturn. Anne Braden Speaks corrects this distorted narrative. Finally, and for the first time, we have full access to a representative collection of Braden’s writings, speeches, and letters, and the full spectrum of their subject matter: from the relationship between race and capitalism, to the role of the South in American society, to the function of anti-communism.

What people are saying about Anne Braden Speaks

This unique collection provides a wonderful jolt of insights from a remarkable anti-racist white southern woman who broke the bounds of respectability. Anne Braden braved a lifetime of attacks to write and organize from the trenches and empower the Other America’s search for the ideals of dignity, justice, freedom and equality. “I don’t think any of us can be liberated until we all are,” she wrote, and her words remain fresh, engaging, and instructive in our continuing struggles for a better world.

Michael K. Honey, author of To the Promised Land: Martin Luther King and the Fight for Economic Justice, and a former southern organizer with Carl and Anne Braden.

The struggle for racial justice in America has always been a struggle for economic justice and for human dignity. Anne Braden understood, as others had before her, that the lie of white supremacy didn’t only hurt Black people. It hurt poor white people, too. And it diminished the promise of democracy for all of us. My brother Ben Wilkins knows this truth in his bones, and he has given us all a great gift by gathering Braden’s insights and wisdom in this volume. Read it as a guidebook for the organizing that’s essential today.

William J. Barber, II, President of Repairers of the Breach and co-chair of the Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival

Essential reading on movement building from one of the most committed white anti-racists of the 20th century. Anne Braden’s insights on the chokehold of white supremacy on U.S. culture, laced with her relentlessly humanistic perspective, remain as timely today as they were in her lifetime.

Catherine Fosl, Professor of Women’s, Gender, & Sexuality Studies, University of Louisville and author, Subversive Southerner: Anne Braden and the Struggle for Racial Justice in the Cold War South

Anne Braden embodied the rich tradition of freedom struggles in the U.S. South, and she was a teacher to countless movement leaders and activists. This illuminating book is required reading for anyone who seeks to understand the movements of the past and the lessons they hold for today.

Rosalyn Pelles, civil rights activist, former Executive Director of the National Rainbow Coalition and former Director of the Civil, Human and Women’s Rights Department, AFL-CIO

Anne Braden’s words bring fire to the belly – from her deeply human stories tracing the development of the Southern Freedom Movement, to her repeated invitation to us to join “the other America” – that place of resistance to racism and poverty and war. She is unrelenting in her demand that we confront the evil of white supremacy if we are to have any chance of changing course as a society, away from fascism towards a world where everyone will have a place in the sun. Buy this book, study its many lessons, and organize for that world Anne shows us is possible.

Donna Willmott, facilitator for the Catalyst Project’s Anne Braden Anti-Racist Organizer Training Program

In this much needed collection of writings and speeches by Anne Braden, our present day organizing finds guidance, inspiration and an invaluable faith that change is not only necessary, but possible. Anne is unrelenting in demanding we understand the history of struggle, see that dismantling white supremacy is inseparable from challenging an economic system that benefits the few through the poverty of the many, and oppose the US war machine that ravages the earth’s people. What a gift from Ben Wilkins and Monthly Review Press. What a gift to all who believe in and are taking action for collective liberation.

Carla F Wallace, Co Founder, Showing Up for Racial Justice

Anne Braden (1924-2006) was a critically acclaimed author and renowned freedom fighter who had a hand in the formation of Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), Martin Luther King’s Poor People’s Campaign, and the Rainbow Coalition. Fundamental to Southern Conference Education Fund (SCEF), she also co-founded the National Alliance Against Racist and Political Repression (NAARPR), the Southern Organizing Committee for Economic and Social Justice (SOC), and the National Anti-Klan Network (NAKN). Ben Wilkins has been an activist in labor and civil rights struggles from the start. As an organizer with a healthcare workers union local in Michigan, he led campaigns among hospital and nursing home workers. Currently, as director of Raise Up the South, he organizes low wage workers across the U.S. South from his home base in North Carolina.


For excerpts, see here

Publication Date: 8/23/22

Number of Pages: 216

Paperback ISBN: 978-1-58367-970-8

Cloth ISBN: 978-1-58367-971-5

eBook ISBN: 978-1-58367-972-2