Biographies of Staff and Advisory Committee members
Richard Knight, Project Director
Richard Knight has been active for more than 30 years in the U.S. movement in solidarity with African struggles. From 1975-2001, Knight worked at the American Committee on Africa (ACOA) and its 501(c)3 associate, The Africa Fund. ACOA provided important national leadership in supporting African struggles against colonialism and apartheid and the sanctions and divestment movements. Richard Knight served as a program associate for the state and municipal divestment program, maintaining a list of state and city divestment actions, and was primary assistant to the Projects Director, Dumisani Kumalo. Knight was in regular contact with numerous organizations and individuals in the solidarity movement and maintained a database of activists. As a senior researcher, he monitored companies doing business in South Africa and Namibia and authored three editions of the Unified List of United States Companies Doing Business in South Africa. From the mid-1980s-2002, Knight prepared ACOA and The Africa Fund materials for archiving at Amistad Research Center in New Orleans. His personal web site is www.richardknight.com.
David Wiley, Principal Investigator, Michigan State University
David Wiley is a Professor of Sociology and African Studies at Michigan State University and was the Director of the MSU African Studies Center from 1977 to 2008. Under his leadership, the Center has developed extensive links with African universities and is working with educational and cultural heritage institutions in Africa to preserve the history of African struggles. He served as President of the African Studies Association in 1998-99. At MSU, he was active in the Southern African Liberation Committee, whose activities led MSU to divest in from companies doing business in South Africa in 1978 and organized pressure on the state legislature to adopt three sanctions laws on South Africa. Before coming to MSU, he was one of the organizing founders in 1965 of the New Jersey Committee on Southern Africa; was one of the organizers of the Southern African Committee of the National Student Christian Federation; and helped form the Madison Area Committee on Southern Africa in 1969. He was a founding board member, and co-chairperson in 1991-93, of the Association of Concerned Africa Scholars, a national activist organization formed at MSU in 1977.
Christine Root, MSU Project Manager
Christine Root manages development of the digital repository and website of the AAAP. She also is project manager of the multimedia online curriculum South Africa: Overcoming Apartheid, Building Democracy created by MATRIX and the African Studies Center. Root was active in the African solidarity and anti-apartheid movement beginning in the early 1970s. She served as Associate Director of the Washington Office on Africa from 1973-1981, and in 1983 she staffed the legislative campaign of the Center for International Policy to stop U.S. support for IMF loans to South Africa. She also was active in local organizing of the D.C. Bank Campaign and DC Divest. She served for several years in the 1980s as Political Action Committee co-chairperson of the Association of Concerned Africa Scholars. In 1986, she served on the Democratic Research Staff of the Michigan House of Representatives, working on the state public employee pension funds divestment legislation.
African Activist Archive Project Advisory Committee Members
Marsha Bonner is Vice President for Programs, Marin Community Foundation, CA and a Trustee of the Edward W. Hazen Foundation. Prior to this, she served as Associate Director of the Aaron Diamond Foundation, a private New York City Foundation that funded in the areas of AIDS medical research, minority education, arts and culture, civil liberties, and human rights. She formerly served a Trustee of The Africa Fund. She was a student anti-apartheid activist at Princeton University in the People's Front for the Liberation of Southern Africa and an intern at the American Committee on Africa.J.D. Moore Crossey was Curator of the African Collection at Yale University's Sterling Memorial Library from 1963-1998. Under his direction the African Collection developed a particularly strong focus on Anglophone southern, central, east, and west Africa; Francophone and Lusophone countries are also strongly represented. He has extensive experience in the collection of ephemera both from Africa and U.S. He assisted Yale in acquiring collections from U.S. solidarity organizations. For many years Crossey was an active participant in the Cooperative Africana Microform Project run by the Center for Research Libraries in Chicago.
Jennifer Davis, born in South Africa, became an active opponent of apartheid while at the University of the Witwatersrand. She left South Africa in 1966 with her family, under threat of possible house arrest. In 1967 she began work at the American Committee on Africa and The Africa Fund, where she became Executive Director in 1981. Under her leadership, ACOA strengthened alliances to build national campaigns that led many churches, universities, states, and cities to divest from companies investing in apartheid South Africa and, ultimately, the Congress to adopt sanctions. She wrote extensively and testified frequently before Congress and the United Nations on issues ranging from U.S. military support for Portuguese colonialism to the negative impact of U.S. corporate investment in South Africa. She also served as editor of Southern Africa magazine.
Traveling in Africa, she maintained close connections with a broad range of leaders, organizations and individuals, some of whom have, in the years she has known them, been transformed from political prisoners or so-called terrorists to internationally recognized Nobel Laureates and political figures such as Nelson Mandela, Graca Machel and Desmond Tutu. Since leaving ACOA in March 2000 she consults on international issues and currently serves on the board of Shared Interest.
George M. Houser was a founder in 1953 of the American Committee on Africa (ACOA). He served as Executive Director of the ACOA from 1955-1981 and of The Africa Fund from its founding in 1966 until1981. Prior to his time at ACOA, he was an activist in the U.S. civil rights struggle, including as staff of the Fellowship of Reconciliation for 13 years. He was a founder, with James Farmer, of the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE) in 1942 and served as Executive Secretary for ten years. In 1947 he, along with Bayard Rustin, was an organizer and participant in the very first freedom ride, the Journey of Reconciliation. Houser built on the foundations of his earlier experience, creating valuable links between the African and Afro-American freedom struggles.
Houser's African solidarity work dates to 1952 when he organized support in the U.S. for the ANC-led Defiance Campaign in South Africa. At ACOA he spearheaded numerous campaigns supporting African struggles for liberation and independence from Algeria to Zimbabwe. Since 1954 he traveled to Africa more than 30 times, and his support of liberation movements led him to develop close ties with many African leaders including Amilcar Cabral, Julius Nyerere, Eduardo Mondlane, Kwame Nkrumah, and Oliver Tambo. He is the author of numerous articles and two books, No One Can Stop the Rain: Glimpses of Africa's Liberation Struggle (New York: Pilgrim Press, 1989) and, with Herbert Shore, I Will Go Singing: Walter Sisulu Speaks of his Life and the Struggle for Freedom in South Africa (Cape Town: Robben Island Museum, 2000).
Dumisani S. Kumalo In 1977, Kumalo was forced into exile from South Africa for his anti-apartheid activities and sought asylum in the United States. Kumalo was Project Director at the American Committee on Africa (ACOA) and its sister organization, The Africa Fund, from 1979-1997. He played a key role in mobilizing support for U.S. sanctions against apartheid, helping to build the movement that led 28 states, 24 counties, more than 90 cities, and 155 colleges and universities to divest from U.S. banks and companies that did business with South Africa. He visited almost every state in the union, testifying before state legislatures and city councils and speaking in communities and at countless colleges and universities. Before going into exile from South Africa, Kumalo worked as a political reporter for the Golden City Post, World Newspapers, DRUM, and the Johannesburg Sunday Times. After the end of apartheid he returned to South Africa and was appointed Director of the United States Desk in the Department of Foreign Affairs in 1997. Kumalo served as South Africa's Ambassador to the United Nations from April 1999 to February 2009 and then served in the South African Department of Foreign Affairs as Chief Director: Office on the Special Representative to the Great Lakes. Currently, he is Chief Executive Officer of the Thabo Mbeki Foundation.Prexy Nesbitt is a long-time African activist in Chicago with extensive national and international experience. He formerly served on the staff of the American Committee on Africa and the board of The Africa Fund. He founded the Coalition for Illinois' Divestment from South Africa and the Chicago Committee for the Liberation of Angola, Mozambique and Guinea-Bissau (CCLAMG). He co-founded with Robert Van Lierop the Africa Information Service in New York, was the first national chair of the Committee to Oppose Bank Loans to South Africa and helped organize anti-apartheid campaigns in other key U.S. cities, including San Francisco, New York, Detroit, Nashville, Houston, and Seattle during the 1970s-80s. He ran the Mozambique Solidarity Office on behalf of the government of Mozambique. He worked in Tanzania for Frelimo's secondary school, the Mozambique Institute, in1968-1969. He also worked as a program officer for MacArthur Foundation and as program director of the Program to Combat Racism of the World Council of Churches. His writings include Apartheid in Our Living Rooms (1986). His website is http://www.prexynesbitt.com.
David Wiley - see Staff Biography, above.