Books for changing the world
Lifting As They Climbed
Mapping a History of Trailblazing Black Women in Chicago

An essential guidebook to influential Black women from Chicago’s South and West Sides, and their social, cultural, and artistic contributions to movements both past and present. 

Geographically, historically, and politically, Lifting As They Climbed gives readers an in-depth understanding of the numerous Black women, from the nineteenth century to today, who empower(ed) their neighborhoods and communities. Structured as five self-guided tours, with crisp maps and accessible narratives, Lifting As They Climbed showcases seventy-eight women—activists, artists, musicians, and more—through sites and landmarks on Chicago’s South and West Sides. 

Including Margaret Burroughs, Gwendolyn Brooks, Mahalia Jackson, and many others, this updated and extended edition is a testament to women whose stories have gone largely untold, and whose lives reveal powerful connections between their endeavors and present-day struggles for radical community-building and solidarity. With no “official” landmarks to preserve the history of their social justice efforts, this book is an intervention against their erasure.

  • "A journey through the pages of Lifting as they Climbed and you will never walk Chicago's Southside streets again without remembering the amazing Black women that lived, worked, struggled, taught and worshiped there. Mariame Kaba and Essence McDowell conjure up Black women's history as lived experience on the streets of Chicago in this book. It is a tribute, a loving reclamation of memory, and a precious family album, all in one." —Barbara Ransby, historian, author, activist

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