Thursday, September 18, 2014
Inquirer Daily News

Vincent Harding, 82, civil rights activist

Vincent Harding
Vincent Harding

Vincent Harding, 82, an influential behind-the-scenes figure during the civil rights movement who wrote a controversial speech for Martin Luther King Jr., died Monday, May 19, while in Philadelphia on a speaking tour

His death, from an aneurysm, was announced by Denver's Iliff School of Theology, where he was a faculty member. He formerly taught at Temple University and the University of Pennsylvania.

Mr. Harding, who said his service in the Army made him a dedicated pacifist, wrote a speech for King that addressed Vietnam in the context of civil rights. King delivered the speech in April 1967, saying it was morally indefensible to send African American troops to "guarantee liberties in Southeast Asia which they had not found in southwest Georgia and East Harlem."

Mr. Harding graduated from City College of New York in 1952 and later received a master's degree in journalism from Columbia University. He also received a master's degree in 1956 and a doctorate in 1965, both in history from the University of Chicago. In 1974, he moved to Philadelphia to teach at Temple University and later the University of Pennsylvania.

In addition to his wife, Aljosie Aldrich Harding, survivors include two children from his first marriage to Rosemarie Freeney Harding.

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