John Henry Clouser, African-American educator, NAACP official, and civil rights activist, was born in Velasco, Texas, on January 11, 1899, to Jasper and Sarah Allen Clouser. The family moved to Galveston in 1905 where he attended the West District Elementary School and graduated from Central High in 1918. From 1919 to 1921 he instructed at Blessing, Texas, in Matagorda County, where he met and married Hazel Mary Zachary. They had three sons. Clouser and his new family returned to Galveston in 1922 where he worked for the West District School that was later renamed George Washington Carver Elementary. In 1938 he received his bachelor of arts degree from Prairie View A&M College (now Prairie View A&M University) and a masters degree in 1948 from Texas Southern University.
During his forty-eight years of teaching, Clouser was a staunch advocate of civil rights and many social justice reforms. Clouser consistently fought for teacher’s rights and for the desegregation of schools and universities. He was the first to start safety patrols in Galveston schools that resulted in the incorporation of physical education classes and an introduction of scouting. He implemented health and hygiene programs in West District schools.
Clouser remained active in Galveston community affairs for half a century. In 1951 he organized and served as president of the Galveston School Employees Credit Union. He served as a supreme knight of the Knights of Peter Claver for five years (1941–46) and was a member for sixty-eight years, and he was active in the Elks Lodge. He also served as director of the Mayor's Youth Opportunity Council in 1969, the director of Neighborhood Services of the Galveston Community Action Council, and a scoutmaster from 1932 to 1968. Additionally, Clouser served Texas as the state secretary of the NAACP and was a member of the Holy Rosary Catholic Church. Other organizations to which he belonged included the National Education Association, the Retired Teachers Association, the Texas State Teachers Association, the City and District Teacher Association, and the State and City Classroom associations. For a short duration, Clouser worked for the Atlanta Life Insurance Company as a supervisor and manager. He held leadership positions with the Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity, Progress Lodge, Catholic Diocesan School Board, Galveston Community College Board, and the Knights of St. Gregory. Clouser died on February 20, 1987, in his Galveston home.
Clouser’s honors include being knighted by the Papal Knights in 1967 as well as being selected as one of the six outstanding black Catholic lay persons to serve on the Josephite board of lay advisors. He was named the 1974 Outstanding Senior Citizen in Galveston by former Governor Dolph Briscoe. In 1982 the city of Galveston proclaimed May 25 as “John H. Clouser Day.” In March 1987 the Texas State Senate honored Clouser with a resolution sponsored by State Senator Chet Brooks and proclaimed him an “Outstanding Older Texan.” The same year the Historical Preservation Institute of America honored him as an Outstanding Personality.
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Galveston Daily News, August 23, 1976; February 23, 1987; March 17, 1987.
Activism and Social Reform
The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.
Mark B. Buchy,
“Clouser, John Henry,”
Handbook of Texas Online,
accessed May 20, 2022,
Published by the Texas State Historical Association.
Original Publication Date:
August 12, 2013
This entry belongs to the following Handbook Special Projects: