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

           Ohio University Press, Nov. 2020


            Also available from Amazon and Barnes & Noble

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 civil rights and antiwar activists of the twentieth century. As a pacifist who refused to resister for the WW II draft he spent a year in prison, helping to inaugurate a movement to desegregate the prison system.   In 1942 Houser 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. Beginning in the 1950s, Houser played a critical role in pan-Africanist anticolonial movements, traveling all over Africa and befriending its emerging independence leaders.  His more than thirty-year dedication to the cause of human rights and self-determination helped prepare the ground for the toppling of the South African apartheid regime.

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. 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.

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When Government Helped: Learning from the Successes and Failures of the New Deal

Oxford University Press, 2014

Also available from Amazon and Barnes & Noble

When Government Helped systematically evaluates some parallels between the Great Depression and the 2007-2008  global economic meltdown, not only in terms of their economic causes and consequences, but also their political and cultural contexts and the environmental crises that afflicted both periods.  The positive and negative lessons for contemporary policy making are evaluated by a multidisciplinary team of authors across a range of policy arenas.  The book presents a new set of guideposts--some beneficial, some cautionary--for the future.

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Washington's New Poor Law: Welfare Reform and the Roads Not Taken, 1935 to the Present

The Apex Press, 2001

The Clinton Administration, in repealing the Aid to Families With Dependent Children (AFDC) which entitled poor families to welfare and failing to create an entitlement to work in the 1996 so-called "welfare reform" legislation, Washington had, in effect, written a new Poor Law which condemns the poor to continued, if not further, impoverishment and social stigma.  This book traces the history of welfare from its inception in 1935 to its repeal in 1996 and beyond, showing how a failure to consider the limitations of the job market condemns the poor to continued, if not further, impoverishment and social stigma.  

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Let Them Eat Ketchup: The Politics of Poverty and Inequality

Monthly Review Press, 1995

Let Them Eat Ketchup--The title comes from a Reagan administration decision to classify ketchup as a vegetable in federal school lunch programs.  The book explains how the government defines and measures poverty, how and why official definitions of poverty fall short, and the failure to deal with the real suffering and inequality in our so-called "class-free" society.  Liberals and conservatives alike have promoted social theories that blame and target the poor.  Collins explains these theories, their function, and their economic and political consequences when applied as public policy.  The roots and results of Washington's major attempts to confront poverty--the New Deal and the Great Society--are described in detail.

The Rainbow Challenge: The Jackson Campaign and the Future of U.S. Politics

Monthly Review Press, 1987

The Rainbow Challenge is the only study of Jesse Jackson’s 1984 insurgency presidential primary campaign from the perspective of a participant observer.  The author worked on the national campaign staff and saw from the inside how the Democratic party establishment and news media sought to limit this progressive candidate’s cross-racial and cross-class appeal ultimately succeeding in marginalizing his candidacy.  At the same time, the author provides insights into how such a campaign could be a model for future progressive movement building using a primary campaign as a launching pad.

Jobs for All: A Plan for the Revitalization of America

The Apex Press, 1994

Written by members of New Initiatives for Full Employment (NIFE), Jobs for All is a program to ensure suitable jobs at good wages for everyone who wants to work. Full employment is both an ethical imperative and the key to economic justice and prosperity. It is critical in securing those civil and political rights that are the bedrock of American democracy. People who are denied their right to a job cannot participate effectively as citizens in political or economic life. Jobs for All rejects the cruel contradiction between the rhetoric of the "work ethic" and the denial of jobs to millions. Full employment is feasible and achievable in the modern global economy. The key barriers are political and ideological, not technical or economic. This book, by demonstrating the feasibility of full employment, seeks to empower those who are now being denied economic justice and points the way toward making America truly a land of opportunity for everyone.

A Different Heaven and Earth: A Feminist Perspective on Religion

Judson Press, 1974


The book portrays what was happening as women, who came to consciousness in the early 1970s, began to explore the meaning of their own religious experience.  It describes the unfolding of a new kind of consciousness, a view of reality which stands as both a judgment upon and an opening out of the world view expressed for the past three millennia in patriarchal Western religious history.  On its publication, many women reported that reading it had changed their lives.

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