In a belated celebration of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day several AFHA AmeriCorps Members organized a screening of the film Anne Braden: Southern Patriot. Braden was a lifelong social justice advocate and an active part of the Civil Rights Movement.
While Braden is perhaps mostly recognized for her work in the 1950’s and 60’s, the documentary looked at her activism throughout her life, right up until her death in 2006. Growing up white and relatively well off in segregated Alabama, Braden defied the beliefs and expectations of those around with her embrace of integration, causing her to get blackballed from jobs and be labeled a communist. Her and her husband Carl faced state and federal and charges for their work, including sedition charges in Kentucky for helping an African American couple buy a house in a segregated suburb.
In addition to the Civil Rights Movement, Braden was involved in workers movements in Appalachia and opposed both the Vietnam and Iraq wars, each of which was documented in Anne Braden: Southern Patriot. Braden saw issues of war and racial and economic inequality as all related, a view she says she shared with Dr. King in a clip from the film.
The screening was originally supposed to take place on MLK Day, January 21st, but was delayed because of below zero degree temperatures in Thomas that day. The rescheduled screening drew an audience of about twenty-five Thomas residents and AFHA AmeriCorps who drove up from Elkins. Donations from the screening went to support ArtSpring.
Martin Luther King Jr. Day service projects are a requirement for AFHA AmeriCorps to complete their terms of service. They are typically completed in small groups and may happen either on the day itself or in the surrounding weeks. Other AFHA AmeriCorps projects this year included a book drive and charity fundraiser events in Arthurdale and Elkins.