updated 3/6/2006 10:18:33 PM ET 2006-03-07T03:18:33

Anne Braden, a longtime civil rights activist best known for trying to dismantle segregation by purchasing a home for a black family in an all-white Kentucky neighborhood in the 1950s, died Monday. She was 81.

She died at Jewish Hospital, where spokesman Jeff Polson refused to disclose the cause of death, citing privacy laws. Braden’s biographer, Catherine Fosl, said she was admitted to the hospital over the weekend suffering from pneumonia and dehydration.

Braden, who was white, also was active in anti-war and women’s liberation movements, but it was her efforts in civil rights campaigns that brought her the most attention.

In 1954, Braden and her husband, Carl, bought a home in southwestern Jefferson County for a black World War II veteran and his family. The black family had been spurned when attempting to purchase the home themselves. The Bradens used the family’s money to purchase the house, then deeded it over to them, said Catherine Fosl, Braden’s biographer.

A few weeks later, the house was bombed; no one was injured.

The Bradens later were charged with sedition, and Carl Braden was convicted and given a 15-year prison sentence, Fosl said. He served seven months before his conviction was overturned.

Anne Braden was never tried on the state sedition charge.

The Bradens worked with Martin Luther King Jr. and other notable civil rights leaders.

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