Reading List for First Year Organizers

P/E/SAlinsky, SaulRules for RadicalsPrinciples of community organizing.
P/E/SAlinsky, SaulReveille for RadicalsPrinciples of community organizing.
P/TBrueggemann, WalterThe Prophetic Imagination (1978)A powerful interpretation of the prophetic tradition as bearing witness to suffering and building a social community based on the freedom of God and the Politics of justice and compassion.
OMCovey, StephenThe Seven Habits of Highly Successful PeoplePersonal and professional development with a spiritual slant from a highly-sought consultant to Fortune 500 corporations.
P/TDouglas, Kelly BrownStand Your Ground: Black Bodies and the Justice of God. Maryknoll, NY: Orbis Books, 2015.Rev. Dr. Kelly Brown Douglas, inaugural Dean of the Episcopal Divinity School at Union Theological Seminary and Canon Theologian at the Washington National Cathedral, writes Stand Your Ground in response to the murder of Trayvon Martin. She describes a cultural and intellectual genealogy of “stand your ground” and challenges a false theology of white control of public space—land, bodies, and politics—i.e., White Supremacy or Exceptionalism. This book is an attempt to take seriously social and theological questions raised by the murder of Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown, and other young black men and women, and to answer black church people's questions of justice and faith in response to the call of God.
OMDrucker, Peter F.The Effective ExecutiveA seminal work on the role of an executive in an dynamic structure - recommended for pastors, leaders, organizers.
P/E/SFreire, PaulPedagogy of the Oppressed. New York: Seabury Press, 1968.
Freire, a Brazilian educator and activist, wrote Pedagogy of the Oppressed in response to the authoritarian regime that ruled Brazil and forced masses of people into poverty and oppression. Pedagogy is both theoretical and practical, for the author insists that one without the other is null. The central concept is the promotion of “critical consciousness,” which speaks to one becoming awakened to his or her power to become liberated and to liberate others. Another useful concept relates to the “banking method” of education versus the “problem-posing” method. The banking method is authoritarian, treats students [people] as automata, and leads to “narration sickness,” while problem-posing levels the playing field and releases the free thinker in each person by giving them the opportunity and impetus to think through issues on their own with only as much instructor guidance as necessary. Pedagogy is an important resource for community organizing methodology, particularly in geographies where the creation of a permanent underclass among the underprivileged and minorities in cities and urban centers is increasingly accepted as the norm.
BioHorwitt, Sanford D.Let Them Call Me Rebel (1989)Biography of Saul Alinsky
P/TJacobsen, Dennis A. A Spirituality for Doing Justice: Reflections for Congregation-Based Organizers. Minneapolis, MN: Fortress Press, 2021.
Rev. Dennis Jacobsen, a retired ELCA pastor who staffed Gamaliel’s first National Religious Leaders’ Caucus, brings his many years of experience doing congregation-based organizing for justice into conversation with unique spiritual reflections. Jacobsen has learned along the way that deeper reflection must precede organizing action. This book follows his first volume, Doing Justice: Congregations and Community Organizing [on the original Gamaliel organizer reading list]. In this new volume, he seeks to integrate spiritual practices (reflections on iconography, in particular) that he claims are foundational to congregation-based community organizing.
The book includes introductory chapters to describe his own spiritual practice around icons, several chapters on different figures and what can be learned or gleaned from them as one prepares for justice work. The final section provides a month-long daily office for doing justice, which participants may adopt in their life of prayer and faithful reflection.
P/TJacobsen, DennisDoing JusticeGamaliel Foundation National Clergy Caucus Director's work on the theology of community organizing.
P/TMay, RolloPower and InnocenceA psychotherapist's interpretation of power, innocence, incompetence and violence.
P/E/SOrfield, MyronMetropolotics (1997)American metropolitan regions: analysis and solutions - a basic primer for metro organizing.
P/E/SPierce, GregoryActivism that Makes Sense (1984)Congregations and community organizing from a former organizer.
P/E/SRothstein, RichardThe Color of Law: A Forgotten History of How Our Government Segregated America. New York, NY: Liveright Press, 2017.
To scholars and social critics, the racial segregation of our neighborhoods has long been viewed as a manifestation of unscrupulous real estate agents, unethical mortgage lenders, and exclusionary covenants working outside the law. This is what is commonly known as “de facto segregation,” practices that were the outcome of private activity, not law or explicit public policy. Yet, as Rothstein breaks down in case after case, private activity could not have imposed segregation without explicit government policies (de jure segregation) designed to ensure the separation of African Americans from whites. In The Color of Law, Richard Rothstein argues with exacting precision and fascinating insight how segregation in America—the incessant kind that continues to dog our major cities and has contributed to so much recent social strife—is the byproduct of explicit government policies at the local, state, and federal levels. Rothstein is affiliated with the Economic Policy Institute and a senior fellow at the Thurgood Marshall Institute of the NAACP Legal Defense Fund. His earlier publication, “The Making of Ferguson: Public Policy at the Root of Its Troubles,” was drawn from Color of Law research Rothstein was engaged in at the time of Michael Brown’s murder in August 2014.
P/E/SRusk, DavidInside Game, Outside GameRusk proclaims that playing the "inside game" (governmental antipoverty programs) is a losing strategy. Real improvement will come only when the "inside game" is matched with the "outside game" of regional strategies to overcome urban sprawl and concentrated poverty.
P/E/SWest, CornellRace Matters (1983)Moves the discussion about race beyond traditional liberal and conservative rhetoric.
* Category Key
OMOrganizational Managment


Read the general standards for organizers.

Use the Directory to schedule an informational interview with an organizer or president
near you.

Review the reading list for first-year organizers.

Candidates may be invited to attend Gamaliel's National Leadership Training to learn more.