Happy birthday, Vincent Harding (July 25, 1931 – May 19, 2014)! ‪#‎Pacifist‬. Civil rights activist. Historian. Scholar. Teacher. Advocate for nonviolent social change. Harlem native. Speechwriter for Martin Luther King, Jr. Author of “There Is a River: The Black Struggle for Freedom in America” (1981) and “Martin Luther King: The Inconvenient Hero” (1996), among many other works. In the late 1950s, Vincent became involved with the urban Mennonite churches of Chicago. In October 1957 he was installed as associate pastor of Woodlawn Mennonite Church, working alongside lead pastor Delton Franz. Over the next few years, Vincent and his wife Rosemarie moved uneasily amongst the Mennonites as they attempted to navigate the turbulent times. On the one hand, Mennonite leaders were interested in showing off this dynamic young African-American minister, but on the other hand they were less interested in hearing about Vincent’s radical vision for the church. Vincent had the audacity to call on Mennonites to abandon their social isolationism and put their nonviolent ideals into action. In 1961, the Hardings established the “Mennonite House” in Atlanta, right around the corner from Martin and Coretta King’s home. Thus began a period when the Hardings were torn between the urgencies of the struggle for civil rights and their commitments to Mennonite institutions. Vincent’s repeated calls to action fell on deaf ears, until finally he and Rosemarie realized they could no longer allow Mennonite timidity to hold them back. The Hardings left the Mennonites so that they could fully immerse themselves in the civil rights movement. The Mennonite Church has yet to recognize the opportunities that were missed by failing to take the Hardings seriously.
~The Marginal Mennonite Society Heroes Series.

foto di Marginal Mennonite Society.