List Jawn: Bill Schulz's Favorite Social Justice Books

We're starting a new series here on the Book Jawn blog, where we will be collecting themed book lists from creators and experts in fields that interest our community. We are so grateful that Bill Schulz took the time to send us the most influential social justice books throughout his life!

Currently Dr. Schulz is President and CEO of the Unitarian Universalist Service Committee in Cambridge, MA, and serves or has served as a consultant to a variety of foundations, including the MacArthur Foundation, UN Foundation, Kellogg Foundation, and Humanity United of the Omidyar Network. He is an Adjunct Professor of Public Administration at New York University’s Wagner School of Public Service and an Affiliated Professor at Meadville Lombard Theological School at the University of Chicago. (Read more about his work on The Huffington Post). 

There are so many books that paved my way to a life in social justice that it has been hard to choose.  As a kid, books associated with the Civil Rights Movement took center stage, particularly MLK’s Letter from a Birmingham Jail and John Howard Griffin’s Black Like Me.  JFK’s Profiles In Courage also inspired me.  As I grew older, some of the following books became significant: 

Reinhold Niebuhr’s Moral Man and Immoral Society is the classic theological statement of our responsibility for the world around us:  not just to live a personally ethical life but to combat the inevitable moral corruption that besets conglomerations of humans formed into societies. 

Simone de Beauvoir’s Ethics of Ambiguity placed our obligations to shape history within the context of an existentialist understanding of freedom.  We can never know if we’re “right” but we have to act anyway. 

Marilyn French’s novel, Womens Room, opened my eyes to the experience of women and the need and promise of a feminist revolution. 

And Paolo Freire’s Pedagogy of the Oppressed made the relationship between colonizer and colonized crystal clear and pointed to a way, a “pedagogy,” to undermine it—a way reflected, by the way, in much of UUSC’s work.

Thank you so much Dr. Schulz!