Vincent Harding, a historian, author and activist who wrote one of the most polarizing speeches ever given by the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., in which Dr. King expressed ardent opposition to the Vietnam War, died on Monday in Philadelphia. He was 82.
His death, from an aneurysm, was confirmed by the Iliff School of Theology in Denver, where he was emeritus professor of religion and social transformation. A Denver resident, Dr. Harding had been lecturing on the East Coast when he died.
For more than half a century, Dr. Harding worked at the nexus of race, religion and social responsibility. Though he was not as high-profile a figure as some of his contemporaries — he preferred to work largely behind the scenes — he was widely considered a central figure in the civil rights movement…
In Atlanta, Dr. Harding joined the department of history and sociology atSpelman College, becoming the department chairman. At the same time, he contributed speeches for Dr. King.
His most memorable, described in 2007 by Sojourners, the progressive Christian magazine, as “one of the most important speeches in American history,” was commissioned amid the United States’ escalating involvement in Vietnam.