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

Wade, Andrew

Andrew Wade was born on Feb 12, 1922 in Nashville, TN. Charlotte Ann Wade (Williams) was born on November 22, 1928 in Louisville, KY. They were married in 1950 [source:].

Andrew Wade and his family were at the center of the infamous Wade home bombing in Louisville. Wade was a World War II veteran and an electrician who owned Wade & Son Electrical Contractors [source: "Andrew E. Wade IV Obituary", Courier Journal, 9/28/2005]. He sought to move his family to Shively, a segregated, whites-only suburb of Louisville, after being dissatisfied by the houses for sale in blacks-only neighborhoods because they lacked space for his children to play [source: "The Wade-Braden Affair," in The Encyclopedia of Louisville, edited by J.  Kebler].

Although Louisville was in the process of desegregating their public areas like golf courses and parks, private housing very much still followed the color line [source: Civil Rights in the Gateway to the South: Louisville, Kentucky, 1945-1980, by T. E.  K'Meyer]. Wade continually encountered realtors unwilling to show him houses in whites-only neighborhoods [source: Freedom on the Border: An Oral History of the Civil Rights Movement in Kentucky, by C. Fosl]. Before buying the home on Rone Court (now called Clyde Drive), the Wades attempted to purchase a different home in the neighborhood. However, when the owners realized that Andrew was African American, they asked the realtor to return Andrew’s money. Rather than fight the case, Andrew accepted the return [source: C. Fosl, "Interview with Andrew Wade", 11/8/1989. University of Kentucky, Special Collections Research Center, Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History].

A real estate agent suggested that the only viable workaround would be to get a white person to buy the home and then transfer the deed to him [source: Subversive Southerner: Anne Braden and the Struggle for Racial Justice in the Cold War South by C. Fosl]. Andrew approached the Bradens after several other of his white acquaintances expressed fear at facilitating the sale. The Wades and Bradens knew each other casually at the time that Andrew approached them as both couples were members of the Progressive Party (PP) in Louisville [source: Devinatz, V., "We Had a Utopia in the Union": James Wright, the Farm Equipment Workers Union, and the Struggle for Civil Rights Unionism in Postwar Louisville, 1946-1952," Nature, Society, and Thought, vol. 20, nos. 3-4, pp. 261-278].

On May 10th of 1954, the Wades moved into their new home on Rone Court. Just two days later, the neighbors burned a cross on the front lawn next door, threw rocks through the windows and shot at the house in attempts to intimidate the Wades into leaving [source: "Wade-Braden Affair," in The Encyclopedia of Louisiville, edited by J. Kebler].

On May 21st, their insurance company, Mammoth Insurance Company, canceled their policy. After attempting to find another local agency, the Wades were told that no one would insure the house because it was such a risky investment [source: Civil Rights in the Gateway to the South: Louisville, Kentucky, 1945-1980, by T. E. K'Meyer]. In late May, The Wade Defense Committee was formed to provide twenty-four-hour protection and legal counsel to the Wades as they faced mounting physical harassment and legal violence.

In June, the mortgage holder, South End Federal Savings and Loan, called in the total balance of the loan within ten days under threat of foreclosure because the insurance policy had been terminated [source: Civil Rights in the Gateway to the South: Louisville, Kentucky, 1945-1980, by T. E. K'Meyer]. Quickly the committee sprang into action, raising funds through events like "Andrew Wade Day," where Black pastors in Louisville preached and donated the offering to pay off the balance of the loan and published material about the situation, appealing to white leftists for support [source: Subversive Southerner: Anne Braden and the Struggle for Racial Justice in the Cold War South, by C. Fosl]. While the committee worked, the Wades continued to search for an insurance company that would issue them a policy. Finally, Eric Tachua, vice president of Louisville Fire and Marine Company, agreed to ensure the property [source: Fosl, C. "Interview with Eric Tachua and Mary Tachua," 11/11/1989. University of Kentucky, Special Collections Research Center, Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History].

However, South End Federal Savings and Loan continued to pursue a lawsuit, arguing that a provision in the mortgage contract prohibited the Bradens from deeding the property to the Wades. Thus a new scramble ensued as the Wades searched for a new mortgage company before the lawsuit could be decided.

The night of June 27, 1954, a bomb went off under Rosemary's room, causing $7,000 worth of damages to the property [source: "Mysterious bomb blasts Black electrical engineer Andrew Wade IV's home in Louisville, Kentucky," Jet Magazine, 7/15/1954]. Although the culprits, neighbors who had participated in the cross burning just weeks earlier, were identified, they were neither picked up nor indicted for the crime [source: "One Family's Courage Remembered," People's World, 8/21/2004]. Instead, the Bradens and five other white Wade supporters were arrested, accused of formulating a Communist plot to buy the home and blow it up in order to incite a race war and overthrow the Commonwealth of Kentucky [source:
”Six are indicted on sedition count; One of Louisville group also accused of dynamiting home of a Negro,” The New York Times, 10/2/1954, p. 6]. They would be tried and eventually convicted of sedition [source: "Newsman guilty in sedition case; Louisville jury recommends 15-Year term and $5,000 fine for Carl Braden," New York Times, 12/14/1954, p. 26]. However, only Carl Braden, who authorities thought was the ringleader, served prison time. In total, he served seven months as he waited for his conviction and sentence of fifteen years to be overturned [source: Fox, M. “Anne Braden, 81, Activist in Civil Rights and Other Causes, Dies," New York Times, 3/17/2006]. 

In the end, the constant damage to the home and lack of safety forced the Wade family to sell the home at a loss and move into an African American neighborhood in West Louisville [source: Howlett, R. “Remembering the Wades, the Bradens and the Struggle for Racial Integration in Louisville," a webpage]. In a 1989 oral history interview with Dr. Catherine Fosl of the University of Louisville, Mr. Wade said he did not regret his decision to attempt desegregation in the city at that time because ultimately that had not been his goal [source: Fosl, C. "Interview with Andrew Wade," 11/8/1989. University of Kentucky, Special Collections Research Center, Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History].

Today, Historical Marker #2254 in Louisville commemorates  the attempt at housing desegregation that resulted in the bombing of the Wades' home [source: Talbott, T. “Civil Rights Struggle, 1954/Wades: Open Housing Pioneers” a Kentucky Historical Society webpage].

Andrew Wade died on September 26, 2005 at the age of 83 in Louisville. He is buried in Lebanon National Cemetery in Marion County, KY [source: and Find A Grave]. Survivors include his wife, Charlotte Wade; daughters Rosemary Wade Hyson and Andrea Wade Chapman; and four grandchildren and five great-grandchildren [source: "Andrew E. Wade IV Obituary," Courier Journal, 9/28/2005].

This entry was written by Angelica Miller.

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“Wade, Andrew,” Notable Kentucky African Americans Database, accessed June 16, 2024,

Last modified: 2022-08-05 18:40:40