A central element of our work has been to document and share the stories and wisdom of elder activists – the “Veterans of Hope” for whom our organization is named. Since 1997, we’ve videotaped over 70 long-form, interviews with educators, religious leaders, community organizers, artists and others who are veterans of grassroots struggles for freedom, peace and human rights in this country and in other parts of the world. The veterans represent a broad range of social justice struggles, including the southern freedom (Civil Rights) movement, the Black Power/Black Arts movement, the Chicano Rights movement, the Women’s movement, struggles of Indigenous peoples, Gay and Lesbian human rights struggles; as well as activists from South Africa, Mexico, Guatemala, Thailand, Brazil and South Africa. In the interviews, our elders reflect on their personal histories as well as the values, faith and practices that have guided their lives and work.
This emphasis in the project developed from the deep commitments of our late founders, Rosemarie Freeney Harding and Vincent Harding. The Hardings were activist historians, counselors and teachers whose lives and work were linked to those of many organizers of national and international grassroots social justice movements of the mid-to-late 20th century. The organizing and teaching work that Vincent and Rose did in the freedom movement of the 1960s brought them into close relationship with such marvelous people as Martin and Coretta Scott King, Ella Baker, Andrew and Jean Young, Anne Braden, Victoria Gray Adams, Marion Wright Edelman, Diane Nash, Bob and Janet Moses, Bernice Johnson Reagon, Fannie Lou Hamer, Gwendolyn Zoharah Simmons, Julian Bond, Charles Sherrod, Clarence and Florence Jordan, Anne Braden, Sonia Sanchez, Elizabeth Catlett Mora and many others.
As they grew older, Vincent and Rose continued as friends and colleagues of these women and men, and many other vitally important but lesser-known grassroots participants in the Movement. The Veterans of Hope Project developed as an effort to ensure that the stories and wisdoms of elder social justice activists would be available as powerful resources for the generations of students and teachers; activists and artists; educators and religious leaders coming after.
This page includes profiles of all of the individuals interviewed for the Veterans of Hope Project between 1997 and 2013. In 2013 and 2014, the VOHP donated its archive of video and audio interviews to the Emory University library, where they are currently being digitized for public use.
All of our interviews were conducted by historian Vincent Harding (many in partnership with Sudarshan Kapur, Rachel Elizabeth Harding and other colleagues) between 1997 and 2013. A majority of the people interviewed were longtime personal friends of Vincent and Rosemarie and the depth and intimacy of the conversations reflect the mutual respect among the participants.