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Africa Action Mourns The Loss Of Bill Sutherland

Africa Action Mourns The Loss Of Bill Sutherland, 1918-2010

“I'm a person who believes in nonviolence on principle. And true nonviolence is a spiritual force that the people can have, which can be the most powerful thing going. But I respect the revolutionist who adopts a violent method, because I think that the most important thing is the revolution." —Bill Sutherland

Wednesday, January 6th, 2010 (Washington, DC) – Africa Action is saddened to learn of the death of Bill Sutherland, African American pacifist, Pan African activist elder, and a founder of Africa Action’s first predecessor organization, the American Committee on Africa. He died peacefully on the evening of January 2, 2010. He was 91.

“Bill was a remarkable person and a true pioneer committed to the liberation struggle in Africa and achieving an end to colonialism and Global Apartheid,” said Gerald LeMelle, Executive Director of Africa Action. He adds, “Africa Action is grounded in the history and purpose of his vision and through his legacy, we are committed to promoting human rights and working towards social, political and economic justice in Africa.”

During a ceremony of Africa Action’s 50th anniversary, George Houser, a founding Director of the American Committee on Africa (ACOA) and The Africa Fund said, “This is how we got started. It was the Defiance Campaign in South Africa sponsored by the African National Congress to which we responded, resulting in more then 8500 arrests for nonviolent civil disobedience against the apartheid laws. It was Bill Sutherland who urged us to get involved.”

The Americans for South African Resistance became the ad hoc support group and a vehicle for information about the Campaign and to raise money for political prisoners for the Africa. In 1953, once the Defiance Campaign ended, the Americans for South African Resistance disbanded, and Sutherland and his colleagues established a more formal organization, the American Committee on Africa (ACOA), presently known as Africa Action.

Sutherland’s relationship with a broad spectrum of Africans who played key roles in both revolution and reform, including Frantz Fanon, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Prime Minister Kwame Nkrumah, Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., Malcolm X, Dennis Brutus and others, helped shape his vision of a more just world. During his experience living in Africa for over three decades, Sutherland demonstrated an unyielding commitment to the liberation struggle.

Michael Stulman, Associate Director for Policy and Communications said, “His work is a history of solidarity that is essential for finding new paths to a future of human rights for all.”

Africa Action extends our deepest condolences to his family and friends.


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