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Vincent Harding
Vincent Harding, a speechwriter for Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., addresses the All Souls Church congregation to commemorate Dr. King’s birthday in Washington on January 19, 2009. (photo:Mark Ralston/AFP/Getty Images)

For an upcoming show Krista interviewed a theologian she has long admired, Vincent Harding. Active in the civil rights movement, he served as an advisor to many of the members of SNCC (The Student Non-violent Coordination Committee) and counted Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. among his friends and colleagues.

Dr. Vincent Harding and His Wife Rosemarie (1961)His spirituality and social justice work is also rooted in the Mennonite tradition, which brought him to Atlanta in 1960. Harding moved to Georgia to represent the Mennonite Central Committee Peace Section as part of a Christian reconciliation between racial groups in the southern United States.

His experience during the civil rights movement informs Dr. Harding’s quest to create “the beloved community,” as Dr. King put it, and offers fresh perspective on our Civil Conversations Project, preferring to aim for “democratic” conversation where participants hear each other’s best arguments and contributions with the intention to make a more perfect union.

We live-tweeted highlights of this 90-minute conversation, which we’re aggregating and reposting for those who weren’t able to follow along. Follow us next time at @BeingTweets.

  1. Getting ready for Krista Tippett’s interview with African American historian and theologian Vincent Harding, who worked closely with MLK. 10:04 AM Jan 25th
  1. Check out Vincent Harding’s organization Veterans of Hope promoting religious, cultural and participatory democracy http://bit.ly/dEhtaK 10:07 AM Jan 25th
  1. “Love trumps doctrine every time.” - African-American historian Vincent Harding 10:11 AM Jan 25th
  1. “We are absolutely amateurs at building a democratic nation made up of many people of many kinds…from many convictions.” -Vincent Harding 10:23 AM Jan 25th
  1. How are we meant to relate to each other in a way that builds our common humanity? Democracy is a way of speaking to that question. -Harding 10:25 AM Jan 25th
  1. “What is our purpose in that world? Is that purpose related to our responsibilities to each other and the world itself?” - Harding 10:27 AM Jan 25th
  1. “What he was seeking for was the beloved community.” -Vincent Harding, on MLK’s work originating from his religious community + spirituality 10:34 AM Jan 25th
  1. On Martin Luther King Jr. as a leader: “He was speaking as a loving pastor to this nation.” -Theologian Vincent Harding 10:36 AM Jan 25th
  1. There is something deeply built into us that needs story. It’s a source of nurture that we cannot become true human beings without. -Harding 10:37 AM Jan 25th
  1. Storytellers tell the history of people, so those who are new will know where they came from and what their possibilities might be. -Harding 10:39 AM Jan 25th
  1. “Do we exist for some reason other than competing with China or finding technological advances? Or is there something even deeper?” -Harding 10:41 AM Jan 25th
  1. “When the mother with the baby at her bosom starts telling stories, it is clearly not just to pass on information.” -Vincent Harding 10:42 AM Jan 25th
  1. Vincent Harding just introduced us to his colleague Grace Boggs, a 95 year old social activist in Detroit http://to.pbs.org/oyq5M Tuesday, January 25, 2011 10:47:09 AM
  1. If we teach youth to run away from the darkness, rather than to open up the light in it, then we are doing great harm to them. -V Harding Tuesday, January 25, 2011 10:49:07 AM
  1. “We human beings are meant to be sources of light for each other.” - Theologian and historian Vincent Harding Tuesday, January 25, 2011 10:49:29 AM
  1. “How do we talk together in ways that will open up our best capacities and our best gifts?” -Historian Vincent Harding Tuesday, January 25, 2011 10:53:40 AM
  1. “The knowledge, like all knowledge, is available to us if we seek it.” -Theologian Vincent Harding Tuesday, January 25, 2011 10:55:12 AM
  1. Theologian Vincent Harding recalls Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King’s 3 C’s: courage, compassion, and creativity. Tuesday, January 25, 2011 10:57:17 AM via web
  1. I was there at the orientation in Mississippi with Chaney, Schwerner and Goodman. -Vincent Harding Tuesday, January 25, 2011 11:03:50 AM
  1. “What Gandhi was making clear, there can be no work for real nonviolent active change without real creativity.” -Vincent Harding Tuesday, January 25, 2011 11:06:52 AM
  1. “Can there be a beloved nation? Why don’t we try and see?” -Vincent Harding Tuesday, January 25, 2011 11:13:53 AM
  1. “The best things in religion are not true because they’re in religion, they’re in religion because they’re true.” -V.Harding quoting Thurman Tuesday, January 25, 2011 11:26:56 AM

About the image: Dr. Harding and his late wife Rosemarie Harding in 1961, just as they began working in Atlanta. (source: Mennonite Church USA Archives)

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2 Comments

This is a beautiful commentary!

11. Do we exist to compete with China? I like to think we are building a community much like the community of cells within our body. Our cells developed nerves to communicate. People developed telephone lines. Our cells developed kidneys to clear toxins from the body, people developed water treatment plants. Our cells developed brains to prioritize needs, people developed Congress to prioritize where our tax money should be sent. Our lymphocytes fight to the death enemy bacteria, our police and soldiers fight to the death people who would harm us. Maybe we all one day "love thy neighbor as thyself" as well as our cells in a healthy body cells "love thy neighbor as thyself."