Mary-Louise Hooper, an American Quaker, went to South Africa in 1955 on a group tour and met African National Congress President Chief Albert Luthuli and other leaders of the African National Congress (ANC). She became deeply committed to the anti-apartheid cause, immigrated to South Africa later that year, and bought a home in Durban. She worked for two years as an assistant to Luthuli. Luthuli was one of 156 people arrested prior to the Treason Trial in December 1956. In March 1957, Hooper was arrested and given a deportation order with 30 days to clear up her affairs. After leaving South Africa, she continued her anti-apartheid work and in 1958 she became the West Coast Representative of the American Committee on Africa (ACOA). She also served as director of ACOA’s South Africa Program. Her work at ACOA included raising money for political prisoners and their families for the Africa Defense and Aid Fund, arranging public meetings for African leaders, public speaking, helping African students in the U.S. and other countries, and organizing the "We Say No to Apartheid" Declaration of American Artists Against Apartheid opposing cultural contacts. which was signed by 65 well-known performers. Between 1964 and 1968, she edited ACOA’s South African Bulletin (later renamed Southern Africa Bulletin). She co-coordinated the Committee of Conscience Against Apartheid (initiated by the ACOA and the University Christian Movement), which campaigned against Chase Manhattan and First National City for their financial support to apartheid. The African National Congress appointed Hooper to its official delegations to the All African Peoples Conferences held in Accra, Ghana (1958); Tunis, Tunisia (1960); and Cairo, Egypt (1961). Her interest in South Africa grew out of a family missionary connection to that country and interracial work in California with such organizations as the AFSC and the NAACP. (Sources: various ACOA publications.)
Used by permission of Africa Action, successor to the American Committee on Africa.
Collection: Private collection of Richard Knight