To Create a More Perfect Union: A reflective, public conversation concerning the healing of our wounded American historical experience and our possible capacity to be midwives in the birth of a new nation.
An opportunity for Friends to move toward living out a deeper faith and a richer future, based on a more honest encounter with the history of settlement, displacement, slavery, and racial supremacy we have helped to create in our land. This democratic dialogue will be lead by Dr. Vincent Harding, Professor Emeritus of Religion and Human Transformation at the Iliff School of Theology in Denver, and his brother/colleague, Dr. George "Tink" Tinker, member of the Osage Nation and Professor of Native American Cultures and Religious Traditions at Iliff. It is their intention that the conversation will be based on hope rather than on guilt. They recommend that Friends also participate, if possible, in the exercise, "This Land Was Your Land: Seeking Right Relationship with America's Native Peoples," on Tuesday or Thursday afternoon.
Vincent Harding has spent his life in service to the intersection of faith and justice. He is a civil rights activist, primary author of Martin Luther King’s “Beyond Vietnam” speech; Professor Emeritus of Religion and Social Transformation at Iliff School of Theology in Denver; and author of many books, including Martin Luther King: The Inconvenient Hero. He looks forward to spending most of the week at the Gathering, and we look forward to his message for us.
Vincent Harding was very involved with Martin Luther King, Jr., as a friend and colleague. He also served as an elder brother and advisor to many of the members of SNCC (The Student Non-violent Coordination Committee). His social activism has deep spiritual roots in the Mennonite tradition and the Black church. Harding has been one of the chroniclers of the civil rights movement as a participant, an historian, and social observer. He and his late wife Rosemarie were senior consultants to the "Eyes on the Prize" documentary film project.
In 1997, the Hardings founded the Veterans of Hope Project, at the Center for the Study of Religion and Democratic Renewal. The project is an interdisciplinary initiative on spiritual, cultural, and participatory democracy at the Iliff School of Theology. The primary mission of the Veterans of Hope Project is to encourage a healing, centered, intergenerational approach to social justice activism that recognizes the interconnectedness of spirit, creativity, and citizenship. The Hardings began their work in the Mennonite Church in Chicago, Illinois in the late 1950s and moved to Atlanta, Georgia in 1961 to join with Martin Luther King, Jr. and others as reconcilers and nonviolent trainers in the Southern Freedom Movement. Dr. Harding was the first director of the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial Center in Atlanta and served as director and chairperson of The Institute of the Black World. In ensuing years, the Hardings served as scholars, advisors and encouragers for a wide variety of movements, organizations and individuals working for compassionate social change in the United States and internationally.
Dr. Vincent Harding is currently Professor Emeritus of Religion and Social Transformation at the Iliff School of Theology in Denver, Colorado, and visiting Distinguished Professor, African-American Religion, Drew University. Before Illiff, Vincent Harding taught at Pendle Hill Study Center, University of Pennsylvania, Temple University and Spelman College.
Dr. Harding is the author of many books including: Martin Luther King: The Inconvenient Hero; There Is a River: The Black Struggle for Freedom in America; A Certain Magnificence: Lyman Beecher and the Transformation of American Protestantism, 1775-1863; Hope and History: Why We Must Share the Story of the Movement. He also co-edited, The Eyes on the Prize Civil Rights Reader: Documents, Speeches, and Firsthand Accounts from the Black Freedom Struggle.