UBUNTU: George M. Houser and the Struggle for Peace & Freedom on Two Continents

Sheila D. Collins

 This remarkable biography features a white American pacifist minister whose tireless work for justice and human rights helped reshape Black civil rights in the U.S. and Africa.
   George M. Houser (1916–2015) was one of the most important human rights and peace activists of the twentieth century. As a radical pacifist he was one of the first to refuse to register for the WW II draft, spending almost a year in prison and helping to launch a movement to desegregate the prisons. In 1942 he cofounded and led the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE), whose embrace of nonviolent protest strategies and tactics would characterize the modern American Civil Rights Movement. As cofounder and executive director of the American Committee on Africa he played a critical role in supporting pan-Africanist anticolonial movements, helping to legitimate the leaders of these movements on the world stage and preparing the ground for the toppling of the South African apartheid state. His extensive travels in Africa during the Cold War and beyond provide important insights into the anticolonial struggle that help to shed light on Africa’s current trajectory. In light of the corruption the U.S. and the world face today, Houser’s story of faith and decisive action for human rights and social justice is one for our time.
   Throughout his life, Houser shunned publicity, preferring to let his actions speak his faith. Sheila Collins’s well-researched biography recounts the events that informed Houser’s life of activism—from his childhood experiences as the son of missionaries in the Philippines to his early grounding in the Social Gospel and the teachings of Mohandas Gandhi, to his encounters with all of the emerging leaders of the African liberation struggle.
   Praise for UBUNTU:
   “Deftly written and passionately argued, this is the definitive account of one of the most important US activists of the latter part of the twentieth century.”
   Gerald Horne, Moores Professor of History and African American Studies, University of Houston
   “This book will inspire you to follow your social justice conscience and act. . . I was lucky to join Houser in the latter years of the struggle and to stand together on the steps of the Union Building at Nelson Mandela’s inauguration. His story has been brilliantly told by Sheila Collins and is a must read for anyone seeking inspiration that anything and everything is possible.”
   Richard Lapchick, director of the Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sport and president of the Institute for Sport and Social Justice