Vincent Harding was a Sojourners contributing editor and a professor at Iliff School of Theology in Denver.
Posts By This Author
From the Archives: February 1988
Down at the Cross
To Redeem the Soul of America
AT TIMES IT SEEMS VERY HARD to realize that half a century has passed since my late wife, Rosemarie, and I were in Birmingham, Ala., living out a part of our years of service as representatives of the Mennonite churches of America to the Southern freedom movement—that historic black-led struggle for the expansion of democracy in America (inadequately labeled "the civil rights movement").
It was in the midst of those powerful days, in the late winter and early springtime of 1963, when our extraordinary people's movement was spreading to dozens of communities across the South, with some important reverberations in the North, and across the world as well. Usually initiated by courageous home-grown black leaders such as Rev. Fred Shuttlesworth of Birmingham and Victoria Gray of Palmers Crossing, Miss., the determined local groups often called upon national or South-wide organizations to help them in their campaigns.
Late in 1961, Shuttlesworth, who was part of the King-led Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC), asked Martin Luther King Jr. and SCLC to come help the Birmingham movement. It faced a level of continuing white terrorism that led the black community to call their city "Bombingham," referring, of course, to the deadly violence they encountered whenever they attempted to challenge the white segregationist powers who were determined to keep black people in a submissive, separate, and dominated role.
When King and SCLC decided to respond to Shuttlesworth and move onto the Birmingham scene, Rosemarie and I were already friends and co-workers with Martin and Coretta, and King asked us to come participate in the struggle for the transformation of Birmingham. So we were present and in the line of marchers when King, his co-worker Ralph Abernathy, and others were arrested in early April 1963.
'Do Not Grow Weary or Lose Heart'
Many people who were hopeful for change in the wake of Barack Obama's election have become disillusioned by the rancorous politics of the last few years. What does it take to sustain the struggle for justice over the long haul?
Extended Version of Vincent Harding's Article
The Content of Our Character
Why do so many try to lighten the impact of Martin Luther King Jr.'s "I Have a Dream" speech?
The Legacy of Martin Luther King: We Won't Turn Back
[Editor's Note: In anticipation of the anniversary of the March on Washington on August 28, 1963, God's Politics will feature a series of posts on the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King.
The Legacy of Martin Luther King: Coming Close Enough to Measure Character
The Legacy of Martin Luther King: Making Real the Promises of Democracy
Video Interview with Vincent Harding
'Our Children Are Waiting for the Music'
An open letter from a civil rights elder to President Obama.
What Sustains Me
Seventeen activists and church leaders talk about the disciplines that keep them girded for the struggle.
Midwifing a New America
I think it was sometime early in 2007 that I began to find myself almost possessed by a profound premonitory sense that the next year, this year, 2008, would be filled with a special power.
Singing to Freedom
Toward a More Perfect Union
"You have not come to hear a detached, scholarly lecture about the two powerful figures who are on our program. I am deeply and unavoidably attached. Fully engaged.
The Spirit Lives!
Pilgrims on the Mall.
The Heart to Struggle
Ralph Ellison: Wounded Healer in a Broken Nation
When Ralph Ellison died this spring, he was primarily remembered and honored as the African-American writer who in 1952 had gifted the nation and the world with that magnificent novel, Invisib
Taking Jesus Seriously
Comment on Howard Thurman by Vincent Harding
God's Appeal to This Age
The search for alternatives to violence