During the 1960s Vincent Harding sojourned among Mennonites while also active in the civil rights revolution. He was a member of Woodlawn Mennonite Church in Chicago, an MCC representative based in Atlanta and a frequent speaker on Mennonite College campuses. I recall his several visits to what was then Eastern Mennonite College. In many ways Vincent’s Mennonite sojourn culminated with his MWC address reprinted here. He spoke throughout the Netherlands and his several addresses were widely circulated in the Dutch press.
The year 1967 was also pivotal in Harding’s career. In April 1967 he was the primary writer of Martin Luther King, Jr.’s
Beyond Vietnam, delivered at Riverside Church in New York City. This was the first time King linked the Civil Rights struggle with the growing peace movement in the United States. King’s assassination occurred a year later in April 1968.
Both of Harding’s addresses at Amsterdam were a remarkable combination of Biblical reference and contemporary authorities. In the address that follows, he appealed to the world Mennonite family to
squarely face the dominant human issue of our time. He quoted Isaiah, Jesus, John F. Kennedy, Nelson Mandela, Camilio Torres and the Black Power leadership. Then-editor of Mennonite Life Cornelius Krahn observed that this address was
most stirring, challenging, and controversial. A mark of Harding’s speaking and writing was his passionate concern for the downtrodden of North America and the world.