Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History

Interview with Anne Braden, March 7, 1989

Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, University of Kentucky Libraries
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BRADEN: Now do you want to test it and make sure it's working before you're recording?

FOSL: It wouldn't be doing this. But let me, uh--sure. Let me back this up and check.

BRADEN: --I've, I've chatted and, and even though, as much as I chatted, just kind of chatted to test the tape recording. I can never think of any--reporter, I can never think of anything to say.

FOSL: Well, this is good.

[Pause in recording.]

FOSL: --is fine.

BRADEN: What I was saying--I was trying to think of what if I were sitting down to write about my own life, that I'd have thought that I, I would not be inclined just to write, uh, what I consider a straight autobiography. I was born such and such a time and my parents were so and so. I mean, not that they're all that dry, but um, usually people do a chronological sort of thing and maybe they're some that don't. I should--maybe you know some that I could look at and get some ideas. Anyway, that wouldn't be my inclination because I wouldn't-- I don't think that just the bare facts of my life are that interesting, first off. And, and what I would be interested in trying to do some time 00:01:00that I--whether you and I were doing it together or not, I'd like at some point, before I'm too old and addled in my mind, or die, to try to examine certain things that I thought some about, through the prism of my own life. Um, and that I'm not totally clear on what I want to say, but I find that I--my thoughts get clarified as I put things on paper, really. I don't know if I could do it, a little. But, um, and that would be useful for me. And I have a feeling that if I were writing it--thinking in terms of that for a while, because I'm sure it would work out differently if I were doing it with somebody else. If I were writing it, I would probably just try and write without shaping it and then see what I had, and then go back and totally rewrite to somewhat 00:02:00shape it. Which is the way I tend to write anyway.

FOSL: Um-hm.

BRADEN: Um, sometimes, I, I try to--and I can--'cause I trained myself on newspapers to do this. I can write something to an exact length almost to the word. Sometimes you to do that for The Louisville Times, which had a very strict space limitations. And we had an editor that was-- when he said two hundred and fifty words, he meant two hundred and fifty words. He did not mean 251.

FOSL: Um-hm.

BRADEN: Or 249, for that matter and I learned to do that. So, I can do that. I can sit down, and like if you said you want five hundred words on something, I know that's two pages type written, double spaced and I can pretty much write that the first time. But that's not the way I'd rather write. So often, even if I'm writing an article, I'll just sit down and I'll have a general idea of what I want to say first and that's sort of an outline in my mind, but I'll just write it and it'll probably end up being twice as long as I want it to be or it's supposed 00:03:00to be, or even that I think is effective. And then I go back and cut it, or condense parts, and put it together, and then I can always squeez-, what I call squeeze words out which I think improves things without cutting out any hunk of something. I always say you can squeeze fifty words out of every page without losing anything, and really improving, a lot of times. So, I'll do that. And um--then that's one reason when I ever, I don't have time to do it much anymore. But people used to say, and still do it sometimes, that I wrote the longest letters of anybody they knew of, because I write letters like I talk.

FOSL: Um-hm.

BRADEN: I think. I mean, you know, I don't shape it, like I just write like I talk. And--but that's not the style I write in if I'm writing for publication. It's a totally different sort of thought process. Now, when I wrote The Wall Between, I had never tried to write a book before. And, um, I remember I talked to a guy--Dan Gillmor, who was 00:04:00interested in our case, he wrote a book himself about the witch-hunt. Um, Fear, The Accuser, that's one, that's on the fifties witch-hunts. He was very interested. In fact, he had suggested that Carl and I write a book together. Carl wasn't very inclined to do it, never had time so he, so it turned out I did it. But, um, about the case. And he--I talked to him before, really, I started writing it. He said, "Just start write down the story. Write down everything, and put in everything, but the kitchen sink. Because you leave out anything on the first go around, you're self-censoring what might be the most important thing. Then go back and cut it." And I did. I wrote--that thing was probably twice as long originally as it came out in the book. And I totally rewrote it, then I put it all down, and then I totally rewrote it once and condensed a lot, and so it collapsed a lot at the end. I think what was one chapter toward the end of sort of a, not so much--well, partly analysis and observation--was three or four chapters, and I condensed it into one chapter. And, um, I 00:05:00may have rewritten it a third time to sort of refine it more. Then I worked on with that great editor I was telling you about yesterday that went over it word by word. That was the fun part, 'cause by that time the hard work was done. You know, it was just kind of going over it. Um, so anyway that is, so I'm trying to think how--what I think I would want to do if I were doing it myself you see would be to do something like that. Just to write down how these questions that I thought some about how they looked to me and to see how it sort of begins to shape in my own mind as I get it on paper, and then just sort of see what I have that I think is--has some universal application, which I think some of it, a lot of it does. And the kind of, the way, the, the point from which I want to come at it, um, is sort of the starting point, but there are other important points too. And that's 00:06:00what I was trying to remember before you turned the tape recorder on that exactly what Aubrey Williams said one time--I don't think I'll remember his exact words. But it was the id-, but it was something to the effect that he said, "You know, I've seen this whole issue of race break the hearts of so many white people in the South." And his sort of point was and I don't know why he was saying it, except he tended to get dismal at times, was that, "I don't want to break your heart either." But that was a ridiculous point. But, it--and I think that's true. I think that that, that the, that the issue of race has totally shaped our li-, our lives, everybody's life whether they realize it or not. In the South, and actually in the whole country. And I think that the only difference in the way with somebody like me is that I begin to realize that consciously, fairly young in my life, as a young 00:07:00adult when I could begin to deal with it somewhat consciously--but it was shaping my life long before that. And I think that it--and it shaped everybody's life in rather obvious ways when I was growing up because of the obvious nature of segregation and so forth. I think it shapes everybody's life today. And, um, in everything, in personal relationships, in social relationships, in economics, and everything. And, and I guess the other thing I think and this is kind of thing I wanna really sort of think through as to what this means, um, I think that probably within my lifetime, or within any one lifetime, there's no real solution to the question. Um, and--that it can create, it 00:08:00creates a lot of havoc in everybody's life. Um, and I think the, I think anything that I would want to write about in my life, I would want the main message of it to be positive, which isn't being, I don't think being a Pollyanna, or just trying to do that for effect, to me it is positive. I feel like, that I've lived a positive life within the framework that the society gave me, and what was possible in my, in the period of history I lived in.

FOSL: Um-hm.

BRADEN: But that doesn't mean that I haven't had a lot of problems. And that there haven't been a lot of problems created because of the unresolved issue of race. And that, um, and I think the way that I've tried to deal with that and live in this dilemma that exists because 00:09:00of race and racism, um, is the best way to live. And for me, it's been a happy way to live. So, I mean, in general, I'm positive about it, but I don't think we've solved the problems. And I think it's, it's, there's been a great many problems in my life, which I take as just part of living in part of this, the period of history I live in. But I think that, um, as I say, I don't--I think there's a universality to that. 'Cause I think it affects everybody of all colors, really. But it affects whites in different ways obviously from the way it affects blacks. And it certainly shapes the lives of blacks and other ethnic groups which I always did tend to leave out. 'Cause I don't think that I -----------(??) so black and white, which of course, it isn't anymore. But, um, for us, for my generation, it wasn't for the South, it has 00:10:00been pretty much that. And, I think any black person who's honest has to say that no matter what he or she does, that the basic things that shapes his or her existence is the fact that he or she is black, and that's all there is to it. There's just no way of ever getting around it, I don't think. But I think that's true for those others that are whites, too. There's no way of getting away from the fact of how this shapes everything. So, I would want to look at that as it's affected my life, and the way I try to deal with it. That's, that's one question. And I think that's the basic question. But, and the other question--well, there are a couple, two or three others, actually, that I'd want to look at, would be, um, the question of class.

FOSL: Um-hm.

BRADEN: Because--and the more I thought about my own life, and the conflicts and the contradictions and so forth in recent years, the more important that has seemed to me. Although I still think race 00:11:00is the basic thing, and I can theorize as well as anybody else about the intersection of race and class which I, I don't think its race or class and that sort of thing. I would, had--I wouldn't have if I were writing something, a desire to get into a lot of theory about race and class, but they do intersect. But the class division is a chasm. It's an absolute chasm. And I thought about that some, reading Sally's book, um, and I'm not sure if she braves that one yet. But think that--you can see, and that's why I want to read it more carefully--the struggle she went through to break out of the prison, of in her cl-, case, of class, and wealth, and power, and race. All of them. And I can empathize with part-, of class and race--I never had the wealth, I never had the power. I mean, I don't think we had the kind of power hers did. But, but I'm not sure she totally understands that. Um, 00:12:00which I would need to deal with her in my book. But it's kind of been interesting to me, because she sees everything through the prism of feminism. And she does see the class differences, and she certainly sees the race differences, but she mainly sees feminism, which I, I, I don't think is the key, although it's important. But I'm not sure she really sees the class thing and I, come back to that, and give you an example. But, um, but I don't, it's, it is such a chasm in terms of, if you're, if you are born into a privileged class that there are just assumptions that you have from the time before memory, really that are very difficult to break away from. And, um, and create great divisions among people. Um, and, and so that I think that the great--the major 00:13:00kinds of decisions that I made in my life young were certainly that I had to oppose the system of segregation and the racial patterns of the South. But in a sense, I think, in a way the more emotional decision was switching my class allegiance. And that was a big, big step. And if you, and was what created the chasm between my parents and me. And they never really understood that, I don't think. My own children--

FOSL: Pah.

BRADEN: --understood it. What's the matter?

FOSL: There's another cat out there.

BRADEN: Oh. Yeah.

FOSL: I just want to be sure it wasn't in the truck.

BRADEN: Yeah, well don't let it in. Can it get in? Is there enough crack?

FOSL: It would really have to push at this door, in which case, you know.

BRADEN: I wonder which cat it is. Maybe it's the one she got in the fight with. But except we don't think it was ----------(??). But 00:14:00I mean just as sort of an example of what I mean, um, I think one of the, one of, one of the sources, maybe one of the main sources of the problems that my children had--(coughs)--because I did try to keep in close touch with my parents. You know, I didn't cut off connections with them. And, and they loved their grandchildren. So, so my children visited them very often. And were probably closer to them than grandchildren often are to grandparents. They would go for long visits and stuff like that.

FOSL: And then lived with them for almost a year during that first--

BRADEN: But even after that, they come for long visits in the summer or at Christmastime, and not every year for Christmas, but they would go during the holiday. They were just, and Jimmy, and Anita, and then Beth. And my parents were wild about them and all that. Um, so they were probably closer than most grandparents. And so, in a way, they 00:15:00were constantly moving back and forth between two worlds. But they didn't, of course, know that. I mean, they wouldn't have articulated it that way. And the poles of those two worlds I think were--I can, I can see looking back on it, were a real strain on those kids, although they, and they were two young to understand it. And the thing, and my, uh, my parents I don't think ever tried to influence them against my ideas or stuff like that. It wasn't at that level. It was just two different worlds. And I don't think, and, and I knew they were different worlds, because I knew that the, the kind of very sharp break that I had to make psychologically with that world that I came from. And I remember when I told my parents that I was going to marry Carl, and you know, that there was more than just getting married, um, it was that I was really giving up their world. And they knew something had happened. I mean, they knew it was more than just a marriage 00:16:00they didn't approve of. Although I don't think they could have really articulated it or, maybe in their case, after what it was. But, um, and I remember we were--they were up here for something, and we were going out to Eminence which was a little town out here where my mother was born and lived till she was five, and where I used to spend summers when--maybe my grandmother, yeah, my grandmother was still living out there. But we were riding around out in Henry County or Shelby County or something and I told them I was going to marry Carl. But before I even got to Carl, I told them I really had to give up the world they lived in and I could, I would go into that more, 'cause it was a painful scene. But, but it was a major sort of thing--they naturally didn't approve of Carl. Because he--but see, they would have accepted it more, I think if, um, I mean Carl they would not have seen under any circumstances as socially acceptable. That he didn't come from the 00:17:00class that was socially acceptable. He didn't live in the part of town that was socially acceptable and so forth and so on. But they could have gone along with that if Carl had wanted to get into that.

FOSL: Um-hm.

BRADEN: And they were and my parents were snobs. But everybody is that grows up in that sort of thing maybe, lived and died snobs. My mother more than--Sallie Bingham is a snob too, that's one of the problems. She probably will never get over that. I'll give you some examples. Because that's peo-, the way they grew up. Um, but and well they had definite ideas about, you know, what's done and what isn't, and who you associated with and who you don't--I remember that um, I think I mentioned that in that interview with Sue Thrasher. Because I know that was the main thing in the interview that interested Virginia Durr. Virginia is real interested in the class thing, but see Virginia never really broke her class ties either. Um, she married an acceptable man she says in her book. She says, "That she'd made a good marriage," or ----------(??).

FOSL: Yep.

BRADEN: But from the viewpoint of her family, and so forth and so on. Um, but--I know of a perfectly nice girl and quite white, that Mother 00:18:00didn't want me to associate with in Anniston and she didn't live but a block from me--so it wasn't even like a part of town--but our street was, I guess, was a little more respectable, and she lived about a block down the other way. But she-- her family was just not socially acceptable. And we were in, in, you know, like fifth or sixth grade maybe or something, but that I would not be socially what I should be as I grew up if I associated with people like that. Wasn't a thing wrong with the little girl. I mean, it wasn't even anything that she'd done. Just that she wasn't in the right social class, her family. So, they knew exactly who was and who wasn't. But one of--and I said they were snobs and everybody in that milieu is, because one thing I know my mother and father have always said that, "A man could always rise above his social origins, but a woman couldn't." Or it was much more difficult. Well, I think it was really impossible for a woman to, but a man could. I guess because he could get out and make money--they 00:19:00didn't say why, but a man could. So, they could've, probably wouldn't have particularly liked it. I know that there was a guy I thought I was in love with.

FOSL: Oh, that was in the--

BRADEN: In college.

FOSL: Oh, no, no, no, this. I was thinking of later. Sorry.

BRADEN: Um, he, um, who was there at Fort McClellan during--see the war was going on then. Nice guy. I don't know whatever became of him. He was a champion tennis player, and he taught me to play tennis or I got interested in tennis, I didn't hit very good. And he was from Chicago, and they, and I, they thought I was pretty seriously interested in him. And I did too, I guess, but I wasn't really seriously interested any man at that point. As soon as I got back to college, I never found time to write to him and he got tired of that. But, um, that summer, it was, you know, kind of men going off to war and things, -------- --(??) but, but I think Mother and Daddy asked some people in Chicago about him, found out he came from, um, but, I think whoever they asked, 00:20:00um, man said, "Was just, uh, poor as dirt these people, but they, they--the boys had really worked to better themselves and so forth, and he's a fine young man." So that kind of bothered 'em, they wouldn't like, you know, coming from a family that was poor as dirt. But he was very ambitious and I think he did--I, I, I've often wondered what did happen to him. I think he did probably did go onto greater things, so. Uh, so, you know, they could have lived with that. The worst part of it was that, I mean, the part that--and they really couldn't comprehend that made it quite different was that Carl did not want to, quote, rise above his background. And didn't want to live in their world and didn't want to be successful in their world. They--both, they both couldn't comprehend that and they were threatened by it. And, and although toward the end of their lives, and toward the end of Carl's life, they were very fond of Carl, because Carl was nice to them. He was--they could communicate with him at that stage better than they could with me, sort of. And Carl would stop by and talk to them and he was nice. 00:21:00You know, so they--at that level, they, that was all right. But, but it was the thing that--I'm just going into all of this now, but I knew what a significant step this was that I was taking. I was leaving that world. And the thing is that, as I say, I think my children could never to this day, don't understand it. I know even when, it doesn't much matter in a way with their grandparents now, because they're dead. But, like, Beth wanted so bad to tell her grandmother about Alice. And she just could not believe that her grandmother wouldn't be thrilled that this little, that she had this little great- granddaughter, born on her birthday--which she was. She was born on her mother's birthday, September 27th. And--we never did, because and Mother died without knowing about Alice. Later, we did tell my father, uh, Beth did, but we all--because Jim got all determined that 00:22:00we ought to, and he that we just ought tell him. That we--none of us would wanna get old and nobody not tell us something to protect us and all that kind of thing. And it turned out real well with my father, but I don't think it would have with my mother. I think it would have been different because Mother, um, the--and one reason we didn't see it was that, by that time my mother and father were so elderly anyway it was--they lived there next door in an attachment onto a house they built onto my brother's, sister's, my sister-in-law's house. And they had asked them to come over there and wanted them there. But it was getting to be a real burden on them. It wasn't when they first came, but because of their age and people get very demanding when they get old and that sort of thing and my sister-in-law's sort of high-strung anyway, and she just didn't want any--she knew about it, but she didn't want any crisis with them so she didn't really want us to tell him 00:23:00for that reason. And I didn't want to get into a whole thing with her about it, but I think the thing was that Beth was so wistful about it, because she always felt like she wanted her grandmother, and she was sure her grandmother would approve, and I think she, and she could just not comprehend and I don't probably and I'm sure doesn't to this day. That there was no bridge between those two worlds. And it--her grandmother would not approve and wouldn't be happy about it. And, you know, if that, if her grandmother had been younger, we'd had to, but she just didn't know, she didn't understand that difference. Although that difference, I think tugged at her and still does, all of her life

FOSL: 'Cause you think--well, do you think that she felt that she was the bridge, just a little? I mean--

BRADEN: No. I think that she just felt like, you know, that that, my grandmother loves me. She ought to be happy that I'm having the baby that was born on her birthday. She's got a little great-granddaughter she'd like to know about that, just like it was normal relations. Well, it's not normal relations. It was the whole class chasm in between because my mother and she tried to talk to Mother once about 00:24:00babies out of wedlock. See, Mother would have, in the first place--the interracial nature of the baby would have bothered her but she would have been more bothered about the out of wedlock. Not that it was because, you know, that's a disturbing thing, or how you going to take care of a child, it's just not respectable to have a baby out of wedlock. And that's all there is to it. There is just some things you do, and some things you don't. And it intersects with the race thing because and she said--and Mother got kind of careful about her racial language. In fact, she was even careful about it, she, she changed her racial views, at least at the verbal level, a little bit more than my father did until the very end of his life. He, you know, he, he, he--that was sort of a miracle. He really sort of accepted little, um, Alice. He came over here to see her. And he knew about the marriage, and he knew about little Henry. He never met little Henry, but he knew about him.

FOSL: Hmm.

BRADEN: But, um, but he was so old, and he was, I think, you know, a lot of those things didn't matter anymore. But, but Mother would 00:25:00slip into real racist sort of things and comments. And she, they, she had a black woman kind of taking care of her who was a nice woman, apolitical, but quite modern in that she's, but who was sort of a nurse's aide, possibly, Mother broke her hip about two years before she died, and she never could really totally take care of herself after that. So, this woman, who had been a nurse's aide in a hospital came, and came every day and she adored her, and she was very, and you know, there was a lot of, you know, Mother and Daddy had never had a black person sit at the table with them. But that changed, she did. But she was of course, still a servant. She was more like a nurse than a maid. But, and she was a nurse, but a companion too. And Mother was so lonely, I think. And Mother loved to visit and talk with people, and in old age, And in old age, she didn't have that as much. So, she really adored Sylvia. But, um, I think Sylvia overheard this. Sylvia was very broad-minded and she'd forgive, but, um, I'm trying to think where I would heard this, whether Sylvia told me--(pause)--maybe I 00:26:00heard it Beth, or maybe Beverly overhead--Beverly is my sister-in- law--heard it. But Beth was over there visiting at some point, and it may have been when she was pregnant--but, before, she didn't look very pregnant yet or something and they didn't know it, but she was trying to talk to, sort of feel Neeno, she called her, out on babies being born out of wedlock or something. And, and had asked her grandmother whether, maybe I guess, whether it was all right sometimes or something like that, and she--her grandmother just said, I don't know whether she said, "That's what niggers do, or what colored people do," but a very derogatory and she didn't use the word nigger ordinarily, but she sort of slipped into it at that point. In other words, this is an unrespectable thing to do, it's kind of thing black people do, you know, and it is also unrespectable. And, and, you know, I don't think she, that, that--so it, but in a sense, what I'm saying is that I think 00:27:00the chasm, that the chasm of class in some ways is harder to bridge than other groups (??). And, I don't think Jim understood that either, how, why we couldn't all be one happy family together. But--and the different values. Your battery's up.

[Pause in recording.]

BRADEN: Is it on? Anyway, the whole question of class I'd like to really look at as it's affected my life, and if it's related to race. But I think it's a great chasm, and I think that when people do try to switch their class allegiance, now I mention that, you know, in the review of the O'Connor book about Jessie. And she apparently did it fairly easy. But that was partly because her family was really part of a radical tradition that already identified at least in thinking with the working class. And Jessie never particularly changed her 00:28:00lifestyle. She may have for a little while, but she, you know, um, but, and I just think it's a, it's a kind of an interesting, it's an interesting thing in the way it's affected my life and my children's and I think a lot of people. But I think there's a, in there's a whole thing, um, and I do think that that, to that extent I'm a Marxist and I think the class struggle is a moving force in history and so forth, there are very distinct classes. And people may not talk in those terms, but they know. And especially, of course the people who tell you that there's no class struggle are the people in the upper classes. They never think there is, they know it too, but they don't want to admit. But people who are not in the upper classes know there's a difference. But, anyway, as that, I, I think the whole thing--the 00:29:00way that it affects people at social justice movements and how you can, um, really identify with a class that's not your class of origin, um, is difficult. And a lot of people are never able to do it, and I think it affects what they do. But it certainly affects our personal lives more than people normally admit it. And, um, and I don't exactly know what I'm trying to prove by all that, although I think I would think it maybe since I went along and what particularly, any there's no particular answer to it, except, I guess that's why it's a society, I think it's possible. But, um, it's just, it's, to me it's, it, exploring that is, along with the race issue would be important, in, aspect of my life. And there are a lot of things in that, in terms of, you know, and the people, the kind of prison in the way people live in, 00:30:00who are born into one place and always stay there and how little they know. I think--I got back to Anniston every once in a while and I see some of my old friends there, and they kind of like to see me because I'm somebody kind of now--I'm not quite the pariah I was I guess there. Well, I never was there. They always continued to like me. But I'm sort of interesting too, because I'm different. And they don't quite know what I do or anything, and I, jus-, how I, how insulated they are. These are intelligent women that I, was close to growing up. And that I, I guess the last time I was there, was at the time my fath-, a memorial for my father. I believe I saw some friends and some of the-- and there was a young woman there that I, I kind of got to know, she's younger than I am. She wasn't, she's a middle generation between me and my children. But who was the daughter of a very close friend of my mother's who's really and went and lived in New York for years and then 00:31:00came back there. And she's a writer and she's written some fairly good stuff. She had--one book she'd written got published, and, uh, she's working on a novel--[recording error]--she likes to talk with me 'cause I'm somebody different that came from Anniston and stuff like that. Um, but I don't think she can comprehend this difference, and they've always--when I go back, they're kind of, some of them--you better put your coat on if you're going out--proud to show me what's changed about Anniston. I was there one summer and they--the, Anniston had--it's moved to Montgomery I think now. They had Sha-, um, Shakespeare Festival every summer, that's on something cultural. And so they were having Othello. And, um, and they thought it was quite progress, 00:32:00you know, Anniston was coming out to see this black play--that played Othello, and stuff. And it was. I mean it was different from when I was there. But, you know, they see sort of--they can see some progress on race, and I think--I've been always meant to look into it more, that the, um, high school there is probably more integrated than most. Although they have a private academy in ----------(??). But it's interesting, and I haven't seen--I'd like to look into that more, 'cause I think that the high school, there's only one high school in Anniston, and every-, and it's black and white. But I think it's more working class white. And so there is more of a--and that of course happened as I think with the breakdown of the rigid segregation, is that it has made class distinctions more evident. Because when I was in high school there, um, even though my mother said that there were certain people she didn't associate with, in a certain sense we all associated together in high school and, and the most prestigious people 00:33:00in high school were the football players who were not necessarily from the right side of the tracks, but we were all white. And the class lines did blur. And I suspect that is much less so now, because the people in the real upper classes there are people like my family who weren't wealthy but were in the upper class--I think almost entirely go to the private schools. Whereas it is more of a working class white kids and the blacks going to school together, and apparently they're getting along all right. I don't think they've ever had particular trouble that in high school. And, so there's certain events in racial changes there, at that level. And um, you know, I think there are interracial councils and things like that. And maybe--I'm not sure about elected office there. But the class distinctions are just rigid, and the class biases or class prisons like my old friends have, it's just blinded. They just, they really don't know what is going on. And 00:34:00I was thinking that the last time I was there--it must have been from, at the time of my father's memorial, I guess, went out to their house either afterwards or before. Saw someone. And, they knew absolutely nothing about the Alabama New South Coalition, for example, which is one of the most important political movements in the country all around 'em. And, you know, it's no fringe movement. And there's a chapter in Calhoun County which is Anniston. And I don't know who all is in it. It may--I guess well I think there's some other--now there is, there's some people--I really like to find out more about what's going on there- -there's some people there in the freeze movement, they're bound to know about the Alabama New South. But my friends aren't. And they just hardly knew about it. I mean, it's just like it's a different world going on, they're just insulated. But they don't think they are--they think they're fairly cosmopolitan. Um, so, I think it's a terrible prison. I also think that the breaking away from it is a painful 00:35:00process, a difficult process, and how do you do it? I was determined to do it when I was young. And I, I think I was--it was made easier by the fact that I would say I married into the working class basically, so I. But I was going to do it anyway. I was talking, before I knew I was in love with Carl and or realized he was in love with me--well really, I didn't think I was in love, I thought it was platonic. Um, I was planning to leave here and go somewhere else and just adopt a new identity sort of and get a job in a factory or something. And I wasn't thinking about organizing, because I didn't know anything about organizing, I wasn't a part of any organization. I wasn't, you know, going into a factory to organize, I wanted to number one prove that I could work with my hands and not just my brain. And I was beginning to be quite successful at newspaper work and stuff like that. Um, but I also wanted to break that identity to the class I came from. And 00:36:00I felt like I had to get totally away and be somebody else to do it. I thought that was the only way to do it. And maybe it would have. It would have been interesting if I had to do that. Maybe that would have been, I don't know, an interesting thing. But Carl convinced me I could stay right here. And, and I wanted to wanted to once I realized that I was in love with him. But I saw it, it was like going into a different world, which I partly did through him. And which, of course, I'd never planned to live through a man and I didn't, because I wasn't going to get married, I had no intention on God's earth to getting married. But, um, to a certain extent I did. But I was--because I, I did, I was, I, I learned a lot from him, but I was also dependent on him I guess in, for a long time in some ways for a perspective, which was a class struggle perspective. But, but I still have that, you know. I mean, I literally, when any issue comes up, it's all unconscious with me now. Well, which side of the class struggle is the right side of this issue. I mean, it's just automatic. Because that's what Carl always said. He'd always ask me. I'd tell him somebody I'd 00:37:00met. "Well, which side of the class struggle is he on?" It was just natural with him. And I, I read the newspaper that way, you know. Um, but that's, was an acquired side--characteristic with me. Which I really got through him, that perspective. But, but I don't think anybody makes that break easily, and my point is that it creates--it, it, all sorts of turmoil in lives and that, and people often don't understand why. But I think that along with race, is something I just would like to look at more. And I'm just being pretty superficial about it now. But that's one thing. Um, and--(pause)--well, I think those are the two kind of main, you know, race and class, that I would 00:38:00want to look at my experiences as to how this illuminates the situation for other people, which I think applies not only in the South, and not only in my generation, but, um, for this whole country. And also for now it comes out in different ways. So those, you know, are the two things. I think the thing that I would want to look at, um, now the things I wouldn't particular-, that I, that I do not want to deal with- -and you better turn the tape recorder off for a couple of things--

[Pause in recording.]

BRADEN: --in fact, you might want to look at it--in that, with that little memo I wrote on the outline. I wrote a covering memo to, in longhand and I'll show it to you, to the people on our committee I was sending that to. Um, on several things. Well, on a couple of things, because Pat Bryant who's worked with SOC down in Louisiana had just 00:39:00done this big toxic march for us. I wanted to make sure we got into this issue of the environment, because he's building coalitions, really broad coalitions around environmental issues. And so we were talking about having workshops on the issues that were issues in the thirties. You looking for your book? Any book will do.

FOSL: Well, I was thinking about it being over, well--

BRADEN: It's all right.

FOSL: Just let's keep a close eye on it.

BRADEN: Um, the, and we were kind of going over on the phone before I'd sent him my outline about the issues that we have workshops on, some on the labor movement then and now, and racism then and now, and militarism, which of course was different then, too. And he says, "What about the environment?" was he says, "There probably was something on the environment then." I said, "No, I don't think anybody even thought of the environment as an issue." I don't, in the thirties. I mean ----------(??) maybe some, uh, you know, what do you call it? Nature kind of people, but it was not, uh, well, it wasn't a problem, either. We didn't have all this dumping, and nuclear stuffs and toxics 00:40:00and all that. Um, so anyway, in this memo I said that, um, that I thought that--and I put that in the outline that--I told him where to work that was in the parts on the economic conditions and militarism. Because it was not an issue, because the people like the progressives for that period in the thirties felt that one of the ans-, felt that one of the main answers to the South's problems was industrialization. Which it was in a way, but, that, but that you live and learn. And what--that industrialization uncontrolled and without any checks for the environment was now the point to where, so people can live on cancer alley and which is worse than my cigarette. With the chem-, uh, petro chemical industry is so big in Louisiana, where they had this march. And other places too. And the whole--and militarism, because 00:41:00and the, and a lot of them felt, um, military bases in the South were one of the answers, you know.

FOSL: Huh. I haven't read that.

BRADEN: Um, to economic development. And everybody thought that in World War II. I mean everybody was, you know, which and it was a quote, good war, and all that. But, but the development of military bases in the South--well, there was always a fort in Anniston, Fort McClellan was there. And I don't know how widespread the whole, you know, the whole military development had--it was not that great in the thirties, but a lot of it was in the South, even then. Oh, I need to say there was a very militaristic tradition in the South. I think, you know, people always went to military school, that's where you--boys went--

FOSL: Girls went there too--

BRADEN: Of the upper classes. And, um, but, and, um, you know, and so I said, I just said to him that we need to work the environment in to that too, because there again that, uh, in addition to every 00:42:00other reason that we're opposed to militarism, the nuclear plants are threatening everybody's life in South Carolina and those places. So--

FOSL: I just found the cat.

BRADEN: Cat? Oh, she's right in the ----------(??), she likes that place. Uh, so I said, you know, the, so the people that founded the Southern Conference were wrong on the environment. They just didn't think of it--that that had to be watched while they were hoping to develop the South, but they were right on race. That they sensed that that was the key and I said that in there. But then I said--and I'll go into this if we write a pamphlet which is what I hope to do. That you can't gloss over the weaknesses of the Southern Conference on race, because basically it was white dominated. And, um, there were a lot of blacks involved, but it was the whites led it. And they knew--I think there were, that it's true that not everybody but certainly some 00:43:00of them did sense that this was the key to changing things. But I don't think it ever occurred to them that blacks were going to rise up to lead the struggle to a New South and a new country. And that--but I'm not sure they could have, you know? I mean, they're things that we, that history has taught that ----------(??) and it hasn't taught it to all white people yet, so I think, you know, that's one of the messages we'll want to project by this thing we're gonna do. But anyway, getting back to Virginia, I think she was limited by the time and generation she was born into, and I don't know whether you could have not been a paternalistic. I think it made it very difficult that, that's why she just can't accept the black power and the whole thing, you know, there's a scene in her book where she's so hurt and she goes over to Tuskegee, and the students, uh, you know, are rude to her and stuff like that. She's not used to blacks being rude to her. And, um, um, but, and the other thing, this--I'm veering off, I'll come back to 00:44:00the women thing. But one of the things--Virginia and I used to talk about this. She, she had a harder time with the fifties than I did in terms of being ostracized and an outcast and so forth and, because of her previous experience. And she, she was objective enough to see this when she talked to me about it, and I don't sense it in the book. But she said that, that, you see, when she and Cliff went to Washington in the New Deal, and he became a fair-, a high official in the New Deal, I mean, she was really in the, you know, close to the seats of power as much as women could be. Which wasn't much, it was through her husband.

FOSL: Right.

BRADEN: But, she knew of, you know, she hobnobbed with all the senators and congressmen and if she said, if wanted to have a little committee meeting, you just called up Mrs. Roosevelt and had it at the White House. I mean, that was just part of life. And, um, to come from that, and then come back to Alabama and suddenly find yourself a pariah 00:45:00and nobody even down there will speak to you, and stuff like that, is, would be difficult for anybody to handle. And I said, well you know, I never had that problem because wasn't, didn't live in that period, you know. And from the minute I, when I joined things in the late forties, I knew I was joining an outcast movement because the Cold War had already started you know. So, I knew that was what I was doing, and it's just so, it just wasn't that kind of a shock, right? So, we were, you know, we're all shaped by the time and the place that we live in. But, the reason I got into Virginia at all was on the women thing. You see, I think that one thing--I can't remember how clearly this comes out in her book, but I know in the things that she said to me in the past, I think that, that, that she sensed that what was happening in the struggle for the vote for blacks and the struggle for, as they saw it then, of equality of blacks, was a key to women's 00:46:00freedom. And that, that it was partly just an intuition people had, that they knew that some way these things were tied together. And they were, in the sense that as she got into civil rights kind of things, she was able to develop leadership and so forth as a woman. Which was the experience of the women in the sixties, you know, as some of 'em now recognize and it was certainly my experience. Now, I knew, I think I knew pretty young, I don't know how young, you never know. Just like I don't know about race, when I really was aware of it. But somewhere along the line, I knew I wasn't going to be satisfied with the trad-, the traditional role of women. And that's why I wanted to have a career. And my mother encouraged me in that, because she was probably a frustrated career person herself. She never would have admitted it, but I think that she probably was. But--and she began talking to me 00:47:00about being a newspaper reporter when I was a little girl or a writer. Um, which she had planned to be but never was and, um, after she got out of college. Um, but I saw this, the--I could have a career. I could have a more interesting life than the life that women had. And I, I think I figured out pretty soon that to be a woman as I saw it in, you know, the world which was white and privileged, but what I saw in Anniston would be a terribly boring life to live, and I didn't want to do that. So, I definitely wanted to break away from the traditional roles of women and although at least part of me did. Part of that was an accident really, then that I became more consciously that way, because I went to women's colleges. Which I think still, I still think women's colleges are a good idea today, and many ways because women 00:48:00had probably had more chance to develop as leaders or in individuality and everything else. But it certainly was for me. And I may have told you this before, I have often wondered what would have happened to me if the war hadn't been going on and I had gone on to the University of Alabama--which is probably what I would have done, if it hadn't been for World War II.

FOSL: Hmm. Why is that?

BRADEN: Or Auburn. Well, because I was sort of a social butterfly in high school by that time. All my friends were going there, I wasn't, the last two years in high school, I became very much, you know, social life was the thing. And had me boyfriends and stuff like that. Which I didn't have a lot of at--I was late blooming sort of. I wasn't particularly popular with the boys and stuff when I was maybe in the seventh, eighth and ninth grades. But as I got older and that was the most important thing. I mean, really if you didn't have a lot of boyfriends, then life was a failure. Of course that's nothing unusual about that. That was true practically and it had nothing to do with class, either that's true in every class, and I think that it's still true today unfortunately. Maybe some cases it isn't. But, you know, 00:49:00I--so that was sort of an objective I guess and I was too smart and boys don't like girls with brains. So, I learned how to cover up my brains and I finally got the point where I had enough boyfriends and went to all the dances and stuff. And got pretty caught up in that I guess, and, and that's what you did. I mean, you know, girls when they finished high school they went to the University of Alabama and joined a sorority, and had a good time and caught a husband. And, um, and I might have done that. Mother, my family always wanted me to go to women's colleges. They really wanted me to have an education. But I'm not sure I would have agreed to it, except, you see, by the time I got to ready to go to college, although Pearl Harbor had not happened. We weren't in the war; we were heading toward the war. People--boys were being drafted. So, the, the, uh, university and co-ed campuses were becoming women's colleges, really. They were all going into the Army. So, I said--well and Mother had this notion that I should go to 00:50:00a women's college in Virginia, and I thought, "Well, why not?" because it's gonna be a girls college in Tuscaloosa anyway, so, why not? So, and then I, I've probably mentioned this before that, that tell you, that so, I got to Stratford, and that was a very intellectual awakening which I'd just never had that sort of life. But, it was also the idea that and meeting women that were gonna have careers and that kind of thing. So, I definitely wanted to break away from that pattern of women that I saw. Um, but I wonder if I ever would of really, in any real way, if I hadn't found the Civil Rights Movement, but -------- --(??) kind of true, I kind of doubt I would, because that's where I really was able, to, I think, to find an identity for myself, you know, and they did come together in a lot of ways. And I think the whole thing of um--and I gotta write something about this for Ma-, you know Mab Segrest, you know Mab Segrest?


FOSL: Um, I don't know if I've met him once--

BRADEN: She's doing a book. She and some other people on the women's movement right now that she wants me to write a piece for, and, um, racism. Um, and she had asked--there's a woman here that's active in women's things, a good friend of mine, a young woman. She had sent some questions over that she wanted--if I didn't have time to write something for Pam here, to, uh, just sort of interview me on those questions. But I saw Mab at the last Center for Democratic Renewal board meeting down in Atlanta in January. And, um, we just were talking, sitting around before the meeting started, and I was talking about my current optimism and how I think we really got a chance to organize right now, and get whites involved in things that are really intrinsically anti-racist and ----------(??) and all that kind of stuff. And that, and so, then so she said, "Would you," and she was just listening, "would you write something like that for our book?" And how it affects women, and what women could do to sort of bridge the gap right now, to get the questions. So, I'm gonna try and do it. I've 00:52:00got to call her to see when the real deadline is. But I wanna kind of and she said, "To try and be historically as much as I could," and I want a kind of, gonna do some thinking about this, and you may have some ideas on it. I, I talked about it a lot and I can't remember how much I've written about it. But the role that white women did play in the Civil Rights Movement, you know. And it's always more than the white man. Always. Um, there were some white men, I'm talking about in the South, but where you'd have women, where you'd have any whites active in communities, it was more likely to be the women. And they always had trouble with their husbands about it. You know, and that was just a pattern. And there's, there's bound to be reasons for that. You know--

FOSL: Yeah, but it's, I think it's a general trend of women in social movements. I think it, I think in just about--

BRADEN: All of them? Is that what you're saying?

FOSL: Yeah. I mean, that, that was certainly, it has certainly been true in peace movements since--in this century and really, in, you 00:53:00know, if you look at the abolitionist movement, I mean, women are often at the forefront. And I do believe that that, you know, that that has something to do with just gender differences.

BRADEN: Or is it, yeah, probably. But di-, is it also, I mean, do you think women because of being oppressed themselves, identify with oppression?

FOSL: Well, yeah, I think that's part of it. And I think um, that that women have different views on inclusiveness. Women have a greater tendency towards inclusiveness. Uh, than men, than men do. Yeah, if you look at, there are a lot of studies that that indicate that although 00:54:00men have a stronger sense of what would be typically called justice and fairness, that women seem to have inc-, you know, a greater sensitivity to, you know, inclusiveness, towards, you know, not leaving people out. Not being cruel to people. And that may really, it's not unrelated to what you say either, but I'm not sure if that's all there is.

BRADEN: Um-hm. It sure was true in the sixties and stuff, as far as civil rights things. And, you know, there are a lot of specific instances--

FOSL: Well, I think that one thing that interests me about the, what you call the woman question with respect to, you know, a book about you is that, you know, the earlier generation of activists--and, and 00:55:00I put Virginia in that generation. I mean, she, she was really on the tail end of it. I'm thinking more of like, you know, the Jane Addams Hull House tradition. The whole like, like World War I suffragist and pacifists. There was a great movement of women during that time. And that--I think is the--when I speak of the generation prior to yours, that's who I'm primarily speaking of. The prior generation of women activists, I'm thinking of those folks. And um, it was just almost unanimously understood that to be an activist, you couldn't be married. You couldn't do both. Uh, there were, you know, most of the women who were, who dedicated themselves to social change, did so at the expense 00:56:00of family life. Now, uh, a lot of them did pair up with another woman, and it's not clear to me what the nature of their relationship with that other woman was, but, you know, as far as like husband and children, no. It was almost unheard of.

BRADEN: In the suffragist movement you mean?

FOSL: In the pacifist movement.

BRADEN: In the pacifist also?

FOSL: --uh--

BRADEN: Jane Addams, Jane Addams never married.

FOSL: Almost, I mean, I could--all of the well, founders that I could name, none of them ever married, I mean, very few--

BRADEN: But, now, some of these earlier women in racial justice sort of things in the South, like the Women, the Women Against Lynching and stuff, were mostly married women, weren't they?

FOSL: Yeah, I know, and that's true. Although--was Jessie Daniel Ames? She was? She was married.

BRADEN: I don't know. I have not read Jackie Hall's book.

FOSL: I haven't either. I've read excerpts from it, but not enough to have a deep understanding of Ames' life. Um, I'll--


BRADEN: I'd like to read that.

FOSL: I don't believe she was ever married.

BRADEN: I think, I think she was. I think her husband supported her in it, didn't he? Two of them? I don't know, we should look into that. That's interesting. But a lot of the women were definitely from what I've read. Now Lillian Smith never married.

FOSL: Right.

BRADEN: I think Lillian Smith was probably a lesbian--

FOSL: I do too. Because she was with--

BRADEN: I don't know whether she ever said or not.

FOSL: But I was thinking of her with this same group, I was--and Dorothy Tilley, I don't know if she--

BRADEN: I think she was married.

FOSL: I have no idea.

BRADEN: Why don't you find out, I think that's kind of interesting. How did, yeah, still, 'cause--I bet you though, we might find out--I think, uh, Jackie Hall's book is about more than Ames, I think it's about that movement in general. I bet you could find out by reading that book more carefully, how many of them were married. But I thought all of them had husbands. I think they had to sort of defy their husbands to do what they did, although some of the husbands I think were supportive and somewhere, I've gotten the idea that Ames was married and her 00:58:00husband was supportive--I could be wrong. And of course, Virginia was married.

FOSL: Right.

BRADEN: And that was very important you know. Her family thought it was so important she marry. And--well, we should ask Virginia before she dies about other women, say in the Southern Conference. Um, there were some very active women. Black women that were active in that earlier period I think tended to be married. I believe. You know, like Sonora Lawson, and who was still active when I came along and Virginia. There was a really great black woman--I don't know if she was married or not, who was the leader of that Winston-Salem Tobacco Workers Local.

FOSL: Um-hm.

BRADEN: Which you know. Um--

FOSL: What about Bethune? She wasn't married, was she?

BRADEN: I've forgotten about that. I never heard about her husband.


FOSL: I don't think that she was married. Um, now Mary Church Terrell was married.

BRADEN: Um-hm.

FOSL: I don't know. I think it would be interesting to look into that. But I think in general, it does--I mean, you could find a married population there, I guess. But, uh, I think in general, many, the vast majority of women activists, leading woman activists of the early part of the century did choose. They felt they had to choose one or the other. Um--

BRADEN: Well, that was true of Harriet Fitzgerald's generation. And she and I used to talk about that or she'd talk to me about it. Of course, she never married. Harriet was a lesbian; she never really talked about it a lot. But she was, she didn't make any great secret of it. She lived for years--when I knew her, she was living with Norma, Norma Chambers.

FOSL: What's her last name again?



FOSL: Harriet.

BRADEN: Fitzgerald.

FOSL: Fitzgerald, yeah, I'm just couldn't remember.

BRADEN: Um, and they were at Randolph-Macon together. And I think Harriet's friends at Randolph-Macon, she graduated from Randolph-Macon in 1926. So, she was twenty, exactly twenty years older than me I think. She was a generation older than me. And her younger sister, who was also, had the same perspectives; Ida Fitzgerald was--graduated from Randolph-Macon in '28. They were two years apart, and her idea, and she was an artist and she went to New York to be an artist. I mean, I guess you could be an artist someplace else, but they went and lived in Greenwich Village, that's what you did. And, and Norma was an actress, and they lived together until Norma died prematurely of cancer, in her early fifties actually. At which point, Harriet began living with another woman who she lived with until she died, a younger woman. That's still around, I have not seen her since Harriet died. 01:01:00Um, but I never felt very close to her, I liked her, named Peggy. Who was a Randolph-Macon graduate, younger than me. Um, but, and I think that there were other people that were in her sort of circle at Randolph-Macon, that they, now they didn't go so much into social justice movements, although they were very sympathetic, just like ----------(??), I learned to, it's where I first learned of the labor movement was from Harriet. And she knew all about it. She was a friend of Lucy Randolph Mason's--

FOSL: Right.

BRADEN: And she always wanted me to meet her, but I never did. But--I guess and Lucy Randolph Mason I guess was from Virginia, wasn't she? So they knew each other. But um, and I guess maybe, Lucy Randolph Mason may have been older than Harriet, I don't know, maybe not. But Harriet wasn't an activist like that, that wasn't her thing. But, she was, well she was very sympathetic with all of those causes and, um, and of 01:02:00course she went through a good bit of personal turmoil I guess on the class issue, because her father owned Dan River Mills when there was a big strike there during the textile organizing in the early thirties. That was one of the scenes--that's, in, uh, was that book, When Southern Labor Stirs, by Tom Tippett. Have you ever read it?

FOSL: I haven't read it.

BRADEN: It's a real good book. I think I have that one here somewhere. But, part one of the sections of that, is on Danville, on the Danville strike. In fact, I think Harriet is the one who told me to read that book first. I believe. But, um, that was a tough because it was hard on her and her father was, it was--Dan River Mills was very paternalistic. Her father was a typical paternalistic employer. They had had a--and it was supposed, he thought it was one, big, happy family at the Dan River Mills. You know.

FOSL: Yeah.

BRADEN: And uh, and they--I think this is in Tippett's book, I think she 01:03:00told me about it too. They had--there was some sort of a, um, co-op, supposedly, cooperative arrangement of the management of the plant with the employees, they had a senate, or I don't know if they called it a senate. But, you know, something that met, and all that. But, and that was all right until during the Depression when they voted, when they had, uh, the management decided to have a wage cut. Nobody had any say in that, right?

FOSL: Um-hm.

BRADEN: And that's when they began to organize the union. And he was terribly hurt and felt betrayed. You see, that people would turn against him. And then there were vicious attacks on him. And Harriet's--Harriet had two older sisters, Ida was younger. I never really got to know the two older ones. I met them. They were all girls. But they never had the social consciousness Harriet had, the older ones. But the--and they both married. Ida and Harriet, neither one never married. And she was somewhat close to their children. Sort 01:04:00of an active aunt and I know I didn't follow this toward the end of her life had a--(coughs)--terrible sort of experience with one of the nephews. I think finally he committed suicide. But, the, um, this, her, her very older sister, the oldest child got married in the midst of that strike. And had a big, big, fancy wedding. And she said, I think she was determined to have a fancy wedding. And her father tried to persuade her not to because what was going on with the strike and everything. But she insisted on, and they did it, and so the strikers were circulating rumors that they threw diamonds into the air instead of rice, at the wedding and all that kind of stuff. Which it wasn't quite that bad. But, you know, there was that, but, but, and Harriet worked through all that and, and you know, became very pro-labor. But her idea was to have a, you know, have a career as an artist and Norma's was career as an actress, and, and they had other friends that 01:05:00sort of, uh, and you, and--I guess you didn't do that in Virginia, so it was more interesting in Greenwich Village and you went and lived Greenwich Village sort of. And I thought that was the ideal life, you know, at that time. And um, but she, um--I remember her saying to me one time, although and I, I wasn't interested in getting married at that point at all, but she and I remember her saying. She said, "Well, you know, your generation can probably do both. But mine had to make a choice." So, she said the same thing you're saying.

FOSL: Um-hm.

BRADEN: Well, I don't know that it was possible for my generation either. I'm not even sure it's possible today. I mean, you know, it's--(laughs)--it's, um, and, and now, there are more women not getting married than before, right? Aren't there more women--

FOSL: Probably. Yeah.

BRADEN: I don't know either. I bet there'd been, um, I know a lot of women who don't plan to get married, or else they've been married and 01:06:00decided not to be married, which is a, um, the-- and then of course the thing that's been written about a lot is the women who wanted to have a career and waited, and they get worried about whether they are ever going to have children or not and whether it's gonna be--now what's the matter, Dominique?

DOMINIQUE: She, Alice had stepped on me and then she didn't say she was sorry. But she did, and she screamed in my ear.

[Pause in recording.]

BRADEN: Anyway, I think, you know, I'd want to look into the relationship with all these other things to women, and me as a woman. As far as the marriage thing, and those different patterns in different generations. I'm not sure how much my experience illuminates that, because mine was not a traditional marriage or a typical marriage. Um, I think, um, there are all kinds of difficulties from 01:07:00women to combine marriage with anything.

FOSL: Um-hm.

BRADEN: And I guess a lot of women are combining marriage with a career now. And marriage and children. I don't know how well they think they're doing. Some of them, I guess, are doing all right. But I always thought and this was probably more parallel to your suffragists and people like that, but combining children, children in a marriage with a career was quite different than combining it with activity in a social justice movement, because a career is more likely to be somewhat 01:08:00planable and regular hours and people can go to work and they know when they're coming home and, and plan what's called quality time with their children and all that. Whereas in these other movements, you never know what's going to happen next. And, there's a lot of tension and strain and you can sit down and think you're going to have supper with your family and the phone rings and somebody's in jail. And you know stuff like that. Um, plus the attacks from the outside that I think affect children. So it's a, it's a different experience and, um, a lot of people have tried to combine those things, and some of them have done it successfully I guess. Uh, and I think, I know I encounter a 01:09:00lot of people now, in the peace movement especially who have children and talk a lot about parenting. I never heard that word when I was a parent, but that's quite a word now.

FOSL: Right.

BRADEN: And, uh, spend a lot of time figuring out how to create a good environment for their children.


BRADEN: Which--

FOSL: Tell, tell me this. Did you talk with the children about racism and about like the chasm between you and your parents for instance when they were coming up?

BRADEN: Not so much the chasm between my parents, but, but I think there's a difference. You see, I never--I think in some ways, I mean, I, in thinking about some of the absorption that people have in how they're raising their children, what sort of environment they're creating for them--

FOSL: Um-hm.

BRADEN: It's almost the most important thing. Maybe it is the most 01:10:00important thing. My feeling is, there, that my generation didn't have that luxury. We thought we were and I, that we were in absolute crisis. Which I think we were. I don't think we were wrong. We were living in a police state and we thought that third, World War III was imminent, which I think it could have been. And that we were on the verge of fascism, which I think we could have been. And it was like people were sticking their finger in their dyke, in the dyke to stop these things. I mean, I had the feeling in those years, I, uh--some things stick your mind. I remember when--sitting right out here in the yard--when a, a couple, who was a friend of ours, he'd been leading the union and tal-, the Harvester plant here. And he married this girl from England. She'd come over here as a war bride. Um, with a guy who was in England during World War II, and they some way ended up in Louisville. I don't think he was from Louisville. But she had separated from him and she had fallen in love with this, Allen, who was 01:11:00this labor guy. And they, they were very active in a lot of the stuff, uh, the movement against the Korean War and anti-racist stuff in that period. But they came down here one day to tell us they were leaving and going, moving to England. And I'll never forget how I felt, I really felt like they were leaving me behind enemy lines. I mean, I just felt like they were deserting me. Later, ----------(??) stood up. We saw them when we were in England in the early seventies when we went to see Jim when he was at Oxford. And had a good time with them, went and saw some of London and stuff. By that time, this guy actually had a British accent.

FOSL: Oh, really.

BRADEN: That he had acquired over the years and they had a child. And, uh, um, we used to hear from them through the years. But I just remember that feeling that we were in a war. So, you know, it's the luxury of sort of figuring out where's a good environment for my children, how am I gonna parent my children. I just, it never occurred to me for one thing. But I'm not sure our generation had that luxury.


FOSL: Um-hm.

BRADEN: Now, maybe we're in as much of a crisis now, but I don't think people in the movement feel like they're in that much of a crisis. I mean the, I know it's important to work for peace and to work for these things, but I don't think they had that sense of crisis that we had in the late forties and in the fifties. People who were active. And as I say, I don't think that was a figment of our imagination, either. Certainly not entirely. I mean things weren't maybe as bad as, as close to fascism as some people thought, but pretty close. I mean, they were building concentration camps, you know, six of them. And, I think the Communist Party, you know, now thinks it made a completely wrong assessment of the period. When they decided that their leaders 01:13:00would go underground, because they had this one minute to midnight theory that it was practically fascism. And, I mean, that was, you know, wrong, incorrect assessment. And that was. But, but it, uh, the fact that people fought back made a difference, so it was a different kind of environment. Some more coffee.

[Pause in recording.]

FOSL: Now it's on.

BRADEN: Well, turn it off because what the things that--

[Pause in recording.]

FOSL: Because I think it's important to outline in the absence of what we just talked about. I think it'd be good, I mean, all this isn't necessarily for publication anyway. But, uh, I think it would be good to go over that, this, um, this sort of whole line of where you think, of the importance of the First Amendment, and you know, not responding 01:14:00to that question. Which is, I think, what you were about to say. So, I just want you to--

BRADEN: Well, that became an important principle. Have you ever seen the pamphlet? I don't, I know I got one somewhere that I wrote about Carl's case against HUAC. "My beliefs and my associations are none of the business of this committee."

FOSL: I have seen it, but it's been, uh, back in the fall and I didn't really read it.

BRADEN: Where did you find it?

FOSL: I believe that it is in, uh, the collect-, the Moorland-Spingarn collection at Howard Univers-, the civil rights collection at Howard.

BRADEN: I'm sure it's at Wisconsin. And I have a copy here somewhere but I'm not sure where. And there were some bound things that I can't remember, I can't find. Where Carl had found very, briefs in our various cases and also had that pamphlet and some other things. And they may be at Wisconsin. I remember having them at one point, they're not here anymore. They may be there. But anyway, I have it somewhere. But I wrote that pamphlet--now what, Dominique?

DOMINIQUE: Is your ----------(??)?


[Pause in recording.]

BRADEN: Um, but that's what that's about. And I'd like to read it myself, you know, and see how much I still, well I'm sure I still agree with it, but would I put it the same way. But the point is, what the point we usually try to make, I mean that, the whole setting up of whether --are you a communist or not as being a test oath, in a way, not just in terms of government employees, which it certainly was, with the loyalty oath, and all that. But it was a test oath in the society. That if you--are, are you a communist or not, meant, are you a legitimate human being? And if you're a communist, then you're not a legitimate human being and nobody needs to listen to you sort of thing. And because, uh, you had to be anti-communist to, uh, do anything else. That was the assumption of the period which I think in itself was a totally destructive concept, because it defines a society by what it's against instead of what it's for in the first place. And 01:16:00it's like the old story of the "Mugity Wumpus"--did you ever read Mike Quin's "Mugity Wumpus," or something?

FOSL: Unh-uh.

BRADEN: Well, I got that around here. Mike Quin was a working class writer on the West Coast and wrote the big strike about the San Francisco general strike and was a great writer. But he's got a fable and I forgot some of the details ----------(??) but the whole concept, the idea was that he sort of tells a fable--

[End of interview.]