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[2005 · The Plain Dealer · Commentary]

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SCHULTZ’S COLUMNS SHED LIGHT ON THE OPPRESSED

Though Connie Schultz won her Pulitzer for her opinion columns, the focus of her writing has generally been on other people.

The Pulitzer committee called Schultz a “voice for the underdog” in announcing her win. This concern for the oppressed surfaces often in her winning columns, which champion the rights of members of the LGBT+ community to women whose husbands insist they belong in the home.

In an April 2004 column, Schultz wrote about her discovery that sometimes the money in the tip jar isn’t going to the person behind the counter it sits on, but to the management. She called for a change in policy but also for readers to be aware of where their tips are going.

This was hardly the first time Schultz had called for better treatment of workers in service industries. According to a feature on Schultz in Ohio Magazine, by the time she left her first job as a waitress, she had persuaded the management to stop charging the waitresses for broken dishes.

Schultz credits her parents for the inspiration behind this. They both were both blue-collar workers. The feature states her mother taught her “the notion that being a Christian meant being an activist for social justice.”

Her husband, Sen. Sherrod Brown, is quoted in the article as saying, “We were both brought up by parents who cared a lot about justice and treating people equally, who taught us to value all human beings.”

It was this background that seems to have spurred Schultz to write her Pulitzer-winning columns that called for Christians to be accepting of gay marriage in the name of God’s love and for justice to be served for a man who did not commit the rape he was imprisoned for. Her latter column had such an effect that the actual rapist turned himself in.

Schultz also cared for her readers as much as she cared about the people she was writing about; in many ways, the two overlapped. In an interview with the Columbia Journalism Review, she spoke about always placing her phone number along with her email address at the end of her columns, so readers without computers could still reach her.

Though she’s received plenty of phone calls and email messages, the awards and the recognition were never what Schultz was aiming for.

She told the Columbia Journalism Review, “If a lot of people know who you are, lucky you, but you have to earn that honor every day.”

by Annie Furia
PULITZER ENTRY MATERIALS:

Connie Schultz’s columns submitted for the Pulitzer.

MORE INFORMATION:

Find updates on Schultz’s life and career on her Twitter.

All of Schultz’s Pulitzer-winning columns are archived on the Plain Dealer’s website.

In Ohio Magazine’s feature on Schultz, she reflects on how her past, in particular her parents, shaped her career.

Connie Schultz Interview