Author ORCID Identifier


Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor

Harcourt Fuller

Second Advisor

Mohammad Ali

Third Advisor

Larry Grubbs

Fourth Advisor

Ian Fletcher


George Houser was a leader in four important social movements during the twentieth century: the peace, civil rights, African liberation, and anti-Apartheid movements. In September 1940, the US Government passed a peace time draft with the Selective Service Act. Houser was a member of the Union Eight who defied that law and served prison time for his civil disobedience. In 1942, Houser co-founded the Committee (later Congress) of Racial Equality that used non-violent direct action against Jim Crow; he led that organization from 1942-54. In 1952, Houser co-founded the Americans for South African Resistance which supported the ANC and SAIC in the Defiance Campaign. After the Defiance Campaign ended, Houser formed a new organization called the American Committee on Africa; he led that organization from 1954- 81. Houser embodied the connections between the American civil rights and the African liberation movements because he utilized personal relationships he had established with both movements which synergized his activism. After his retirement, Houser remained active in the peace and anti-apartheid movements. As a figure, Houser can serve as an embodiment of the connections between the Civil Rights and African Liberation Movements. The connections he made with figures central in both facilitated Pan-African connections between the movements. This dissertation also forms a nexus between U.S. policy in Africa and domestic civil rights. Since the ACOA had a policy of supporting African independence and sovereignty wary of interference by the superpowers, the dissertation also examines the role of a non-governmental organization, the ACOA, and its often contentious relationship with the U.S. government over those African policies. The ACOA led the American anti-Apartheid movement from 1952 until the free elections in 1994. Its collaboration with numerous local, national, and international organizations played a key role in getting comprehensive sanctions passed over Ronald Reagan’s veto in the 1980s. While contemporaries were aware of Houser’s contributions, historians have failed to acknowledge his impact on these movements.

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