Robert E. Harding, Jr., a native of Danville, Ky., was the second African-American graduate of the University of Kentucky College of Law. While holding a full-time job, Harding completed the 3 year curriculum in 2 ½ years, graduating in 1957.
Harding was a member of the Kentucky and New Mexico bars and was admitted to practice before the United States Supreme Court. He began his professional career in 1959 as an attorney with the National Labor Relations Board in New York City. He also worked at the Albuquerque, N.Mex. and El Paso, Tex. offices. He received commendations from Labor and Management for his skill and fairness. After retiring in the late 1980s, Harding was appointed an arbitrator by the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service. In 1987, he was voted the “Arbitrator of the Year” by the New Mexico Better Business Bureau.
As a civil rights activist, Harding was a life member of the NAACP and as a member of the New Mexico NAACP Legal Counsel dealt with unfair labor practices.
A Henry Stites Barker Fellow, Harding and his wife, Iola, funded several scholarships. After his death in 2004, his widow established the Robert E. Harding, Jr. Professorship to honor and pass on his ideals of “Liberty and Justice for All” under “Equal Protection of the Laws.”