Civil Rights Leader, MLK speechwriter Dr. Vincent Harding dead at 82

DENVER - Dr. Vincent Harding, civil rights leader and beloved Iliff School of Theology professor, known for decades of "behind the scenes" social justice activism and work with the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., died Monday. He was 82.

"He's the most important civil rights leader not everyone has heard of," Iliff professor George "Tink" Tinker said. "Not a public face like Jesse Jackson or Dr. King."

Described as a "gentle giant" because of his thoughtful manner and impact and influence in the movement, Harding and his wife, Rosemarie, moved to Atlanta in 1961 to become directly involved in the civil rights movement.

They founded the Mennonite House, an interracial service center and gathering place, and traveled the South assisting anti-segregation campaigns for the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee and the Congress of Racial Equality.

Through his work, Harding met King and became an aide and speechwriter to the leader. Harding penned King's famous anti-Vietnam speech, "Beyond Vietnam: A Time to Break the Silence."

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