KUSA - There's so much history in the great state of Colorado - and so many people who have made contributions to society and our nation. One of those people is Dr. Vincent Harding.
Harding grew up in Harlem in the 1930s during the time when there was great civil unrest and racial tension. He went to three different universities and received his doctorate from the University of Chicago. While he was in the windy city, he became a Mennonite. Harding says it was the mission behind the church that drew him to the religion and their deep commitment to peace.
In 1961, Harding and four other church members decided to head to the south to see if they could help bring blacks and whites together in the name of Christianity. Their first stop when they made it to Alabama was to Martin Luther King's house.
"We rang the bell and Coretta was clearly fascinated to see what this motley crew looked like and said 'You know, I think Martin might be interested in talking to you guys. Let me see how he feels.' So, she went inside to tell him that we were there," Harding said. "He was in his PJs [pajamas] and in his robe and in his bed. And he invites us to pull up chairs around the bed and just sit and talk. He said 'You guys are Mennonites. You know something about non violence and what we're trying to do here. You ought to come back here sometime and consider helping us.' I considered that an invitation."
From that day on, Harding and his church members became deeply involved in the movement.
"Martin wanted us to try and help whites to see the role that they can play not as part of the movement as conscientious Christians. It was one of the most fascinating things that he asked us to do. We were also working with some of the other organizations there, especially the student non violent coordinating committee," Harding said.
There are many contributions Harding made to the movement, but one of the most famous was when he wrote the first draft of King's speech on the end to the Vietnam war in April of 1967.
"[There was] one ne speech that Martin asked me to draft for him - and that was his speech against American participation in the war in Vietnam. And I did many other press releases after that or anything else he asked me to do," Harding said.
Harding continued to work diligently to bring about racial equality for more than eighty years. He says his greatest mission was bringing about a more perfect union, but his greatest accomplishment is encouraging the younger generation to work towards creating a more harmonious society.
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