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RIP William Worthy, 1921 – 2014, Vincent Harding 1931 – 2014

Vincent Harding

Vincent Harding

By Grace Lee Boggs
Special to the Michigan Citizen

This month, the world, the movement and I lost two irreplaceable comrades: William Worthy, the trailblazing journalist, and Vincent Harding, the historian, theologian and movement activist.

The media including the New York Times, had a lot to say about Worthy. They wrote about how Bill, defying all kinds of government restrictions, had gone to China and Cuba. “Democracy Now” replayed its WWII interview with him.

I remember Bill best for a short notice that appeared on the lower left-hand corner of the front page of the New York Times on Aug. 28, 1963, the day of the March on Washington. In it, he and Conrad Lynn, an African American lawyer and Freedom Rider, called on movement activists to create an all-black Freedom Now Party.

William Worthy

William Worthy

The proposal scared the daylights out of the Democratic Party, because it could not afford to lose the black vote.

For the next few months until election day, we drove all over the country from county to county gathering enough signatures to get a Freedom Now Party on the ballot. We succeeded in Michigan!

Some months ago, after learning Worthy was teaching at Howard University, I called and spoke with him.

Monday morning, May 19, the day of Vincent’s transition, about a dozen Detroit activists met in my living room with Nelson and Joyce Johnson from Greensboro, N.C. We started the meeting by sending a message to the Harding family and ended it by singing Vincent’s favorite anthem, “We Are Building up a New World, Builders Must Be Strong.”

He made his transition a few hours after our meeting ended.


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