Civil rights leader Vincent Harding

(Photo: Courtesy of Veterans of Hope Project)
Vincent Harding, civil rights leader and colleague of Martin Luther King, Jr., has died, according to the Illif School of Theology in Denver. He was 82.

Harding was also a Professor Emeritus of Religion and Social Transformation at the Iliff School of Theology.

“We will greatly miss our brother Vincent and the wisdom he shared with us.  His life-giving work of helping others to find their voice when they thought it impossible was a gift to generations of Americans and many abroad,” says Thomas V. Wolfe, Iliff's president and chief executive officer.

He adds: “We have not only lost a friend and teacher, but a life giver to shaping the movement of history. We are thankful that his work lives on in the many lives he touched.  His inspirational voice lives on in all of us.”

Tuesday the school held a memorial in the Iliff Hall Chapel to remember Harding. A formal memorial service will happen in the coming days. 

Harding taught at Iliff from 1981 to 2004. He founded the Veterans of Hope Project, which is an initiative on religion, culture and participatory democracy.

He worked throughout the South in the 1960s on the the anti-segregation campaigns.  From 1961-1965, Harding represented the Mennonite Service Committee in the Southern Freedom Movement from the Mennonite Service Committee.  He is credited with drafting speeches for King, including King’s famous 1967 anti-Vietnam War speech, “Beyond Vietnam: A Time to Break Silence.” 

Harding also served as the first director of the Martin Luther King, Jr., Memorial Center in Atlanta.

During a 2008 interview with CPR's Colorado Matters, Harding said the goal of racial equality remains.

"We have not achieved that," Harding said. "What we need to try to understand is what is it we need to do to continue in that direction and build ourselves as a truly multiracial, democratic society."