From NKAA, Notable Kentucky African Americans Database (main entry)

Southern Conference Educational Fund (SCEF)

Founded in the 1938 by both communists and non-communists, the Southern Conference Educational Fund (SCEF) was a division of the Southern Conference for Human Welfare (SCHW). The headquarters, located in New Orleans, LA, was well funded by supporters in the northern sector of the United States. The mission of SCEF was to eliminate segregation and racial injustice in the South with the joint efforts of southern Blacks and whites.

In 1948, the parent organization SCHW folded and SCEF continued as an independent organization that was labeled by opponents as the Communist voice in the South. SCEF was investigated in 1958 by the U.S. House of Representatives' Un-American Activities Committee. The hearings were held in Atlanta, GA, and Anne and Carl Braden, from Louisville, KY, were two of the persons subpoenaed for the hearings. Anne was not called to testify, but Carl was, and when he refused to answer any questions, he was found in contempt of Congress and sentenced to a year in jail. He served 10 months.

Out of fear of such retaliation, civil rights and other similar organizations pulled away from SCEF, but former First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt, along with Ella Baker, stood by the organization as members and supporters. With the Bradens' support, SCEF became a major civil rights organization for the South with strong ties to the up-and-coming Student Non-violent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) [article in King Encyclopedia online]. In 1966, the SCEF headquarters were moved to Louisville, where they remained until the last days of the organization. With the Bradens' influence as former journalists, the SCEF newspaper Southern Patriot gained a circulation of 20,000 and was used to disseminate information about the efforts of SCEF and SNCC.

For more see Freedom's Daughters, by L. Olson; In Struggle, by C. Carson; and "Southern Conference Educational Fund" in Organizing Black America, by N. Mjagkij. The Southern Conference Educational Fund records are at Georgia State University Library.

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Cite This NKAA Entry:

“Southern Conference Educational Fund (SCEF),” Notable Kentucky African Americans Database, accessed May 18, 2024,

Last modified: 2020-10-26 21:09:43