On April 4, 1967 – exactly one year before he was assassinated – Martin Luther King Jr. delivered one of his most controversial speeches to a meeting of Clergy and Laymen Concerned at the Riverside Church in New York City, calling the nation to account for what he saw as a misguided and deeply wrong war in Vietnam.
Vincent Harding drafted that speech, now known as “A Time to Break Silence” or “Beyond Vietnam.” Harding will remember his friend and colleague Dr. King when he makes his third visit to Bethel College, this time for Bethel’s annual celebration of the national King holiday, Monday, Jan. 18.
Harding first came to Bethel in 1984 to deliver the Menno Simons Lectures. In 1993, he was the commencement speaker. His presence at Bethel will mark the 50-year anniversary of a speech King himself made in Memorial Hall, Jan. 21, 1960. The title of Harding’s address is “More Than Nostalgia: Revisiting King in 2010.”
Along with Harding’s presentation in Memorial Hall on the evening of Jan. 18, Bethel’s King Day celebration will highlight the recent discovery of a recording of King’s 1960 speech, heretofore unknown.