Amistad Remembers Activist George Houser

George Houser, 1973.

George Houser, 1973.

We report with very sad news the passing of lifelong activist George M. Houser. Houser passed away on August 19 at the age of 99, having lived a life dedicated to the fight against injustice and inequality.

George was active both in the Civil Rights Movement and in international efforts to educate the world on anti-apartheid and anti-colonial movements in Africa. He served on the staff of the Fellowship of Reconciliation for 13 years and founded, with James Farmer, the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE) in 1942, for which he served as Executive Secretary for 10 years. In 1947, along with Bayard Rustin, he organized and participated in the first freedom ride of the Civil Rights Movement, the Journey of Reconciliation. George was instrumental in the formation of the American Committee on Africa (ACOA) and was its Executive Director from 1955-1981. ACOA grew out of the Americans for South African Resistance (AFSAR), which was formed to support the Campaign of Defiance Against Unjust Laws led by the African National Congress (ANC). At ACOA, Houser spearheaded numerous campaigns supporting African struggles for liberation and independence, from Algeria to South Africa and developed close ties to African leaders including Amilcar Cabral, Julius Nyerere, Eduardo Mondlane, Kwame Nkrumah, and Oliver Tambo. 

George Houser (center) leads a protest against trade with South Africa in New York, 1963.

George Houser (center) leads a protest against trade with South Africa in New York, 1963.

George’s life and legacy are well documented at Amistad in the records of the American Committee on Africa and The Africa Fund, as well as Houser’s personal collection of slides and films from his various visits to the African continent. We have been very fortunate to share those with researchers from across the globe over the past few years.

Memorial events celebrating George’s life will take place in California, tentatively scheduled for September 19 and, at a later date, on the East Coast.

Post by Christopher Harter.

Images from the American Committee on Africa records. Not to be reproduced without permission.

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