The black freedom movement, from its origins in 19th-century abolitionism, has been led by African Americans, working with a few key white supporters.
For more than half the 20th century, a strict racial code prevented blacks and whites in the South from socializing, let alone protesting, together. Multiracial alliances had to take place in secret or face violent reprisals, and only the most committed crusaders would take such risks. Kentucky was less rigid but not by much. By the Great Depression era, those black-white coalitions most often happened through struggling together for better working conditions through labor unions.
Reared in rigidly segregated Alabama, Anne Braden renounced racist values as a young woman in the 1940s and felt a special responsibility as a white southerner to stand with African Americans for full equality. She knew almost instinctively that even a few whites on the picket line could show that desegregation was a struggle for all, not just for African Americans.
Once she teamed up with Carl, who was both a Marxist and a trade unionist, they saw the labor movement as the most promising site for opposing racism, capitalism, and injustice. Their work with organized labor led them to people like Andrew Wade and the valiant few who supported his right to the house. The events triggered by the Wade purchase in 1954 further convinced the Bradens that racial justice was central to any justice in the US, and they spent the rest of their lives working to bridge the racial divides that could separate even those working for civil and human rights.
Leo Weekly, “Strike City: Louisville’s Labor Legacy and Future”
Browning, Joan C. & Dorothy Dawson Burlage. “Deep in Our Hearts: Nine White Women in the Freedom Movement.”