Welcome

Welcome to the SSW Book Club!

This book club is for people at the School of Social Work to come together over brown bag lunches to discuss relevant books.

Our goal is to expand our knowledge of issues and history surrounding Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion through reading and through conversation.

We will each read what we can, in whatever format we choose, and will discuss the readings with respect for one another's experience and opinions.

Currently, the club is organized by Betsy Williams, David Pratt, and Joe Galura. We encourage your engagement at all levels.

The Watsons Go to Birmingham, 1963 - by Christopher Paul Curtis

Friday, November 30, noon -1, 2733 SSWB

Our November meeting will discuss the award-winning novel by Christopher Paul Curtis: The Watsons Go to Birmingham, 1963.

Local libraries and bookstores have copies of the book.

Read about the book or read a chapter from the author's website.

You are welcome to join our discussion, whether or not you have attended before, or finished the book.

Previous Books:

The New Jim Crow, by Michelle Alexander

Thursday, October 25, noon - 1, room 2629 SSWB

Our October meeting continued our discussion of The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in an Age of Colorblindness.

Read an excerpt from the book's website or view the book trailer.


Local bookstores and libraries have the book, and Betsy has a few copies in her office, to loan.

You are welcome to join our discussion, whether or not you came in September, or finished the book.

The New Jim Crow, by Michelle Alexander

Friday, September 21, noon - 1, in SSWB room B798

Our third book is The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in an Age of Colorblindness. From the book's website:

Jim Crow laws were wiped off the books decades ago, but today an extraordinary percentage of the African American community is warehoused in prisons or trapped in a parallel social universe, denied basic civil and human rights—including the right to vote; the right to serve on juries; and the right to be free of legal discrimination in employment, housing, access to education and public benefits. Today, it is no longer socially permissible to use race explicitly as a justification for discrimination, exclusion, and social contempt. Yet as civil-rights-lawyer-turned-legal-scholar Michelle Alexander demonstrates, it is perfectly legal to discriminate against convicted criminals in nearly all the ways in which it was once legal to discriminate against African Americans. Once labeled a felon, even for a minor drug crime, the old forms of discrimination are suddenly legal again. In her words, “we have not ended racial caste in America; we have merely redesigned it.”

Read an excerpt from the book's website .


Local bookstores and libraries have the book, and Betsy has a few copies in her office, to loan.

You are welcome to join our discussion, whether or not you finished reading the book first.

Just Mercy, by Bryan Stevenson

Thursday, August 9, noon -1, in SSWB 2752

Our second book is Just Mercy. Here's a description from the author's website:

Bryan Stevenson was a young lawyer when he founded the Equal Justice Initiative, a legal practice dedicated to defending those most desperate and in need: the poor, the wrongly condemned, and women and children trapped in the farthest reaches of our criminal justice system. One of his first cases was that of Walter McMillian, a young man who was sentenced to die for a notorious murder he insisted he didn’t commit. The case drew Bryan into a tangle of conspiracy, political machinations, and legal brinksmanship—and transformed his understanding of mercy and justice forever.

JUST MERCY is at once an unforgettable account of an idealistic, gifted young lawyer’s coming of age, a moving window into the lives of those he has defended, and an inspiring argument for compassion in the pursuit of justice.

Here are a few links:

Local bookstores and libraries have the book, and Betsy has a few copies in her office, to loan.


You are welcome to join us, whether or not you finished reading the book first.

March, by John Lewis

Thursday, May 17, noon-1, in SSWB 1804

Our first title is March, the three volume graphic novel by John Lewis, with Andrew Ayden and Nate Powell.

March tells the inside story of the Civil Rights Movement through the eyes of one of its most iconic figures. This award-winning #1 bestselling graphic novel trilogy recounts Congressman John Lewis' life in the movement.

Here are two links to video of the authors' Nov 2017 talk at Hill Auditorium:

  • from the U-M Stamps School: https://youtu.be/ri1zSBZdftE
    • John Lewis speaks starting at about the 20 minute mark, followed by Ayden and Powell.
  • from Detroit Public TV: https://youtu.be/kXhYUXEuNco
    • In the DPTV video, John Lewis speaks starting at about the 6 minute mark, followed by Ayden and Powell.

Here's the publisher's website about the books:

You can find the books on reserve at the U-M library:

Local public libraries also have copies, and Betsy has a few copies you can borrow.