Authors Mariame Kaba and Essence McDowell wrote the book “Lifting As They Climbed: Mapping a History of Black Women on Chicago’s South Side – A Self-Guided Tour," which takes participants on a tour that highlights women's contribution to the South Side landscape, dating back to the 1960s.

The book features nearly 50 locations that document the influence women had on the culture of Chicago and the world. 

“It has bothered me that Black women’s intellectual contributions … have been marginalized or always connected to forces of suffering. People haven’t taken the time to really know Black women, in our fullness as three-dimensional human beings,” Kaba told The Chicago Tribune. “I want people to think about what these women did, the stories they told, the music they made, the institutions they built and how it’s connected to black women’s lives today.” 

Throughout the tour, participants will stop and reflect on the work of civil rights icons like journalist Ida B. Wells, pilot Bessie Coleman and writer Lorraine Hainsberry. 

"These Black women created a roadmap, a blueprint for how to build in a community,” McDowell said. “These women didn’t care what people thought of them, they didn’t let racism stop them, they didn’t let the threat of violence, didn’t let social structures stop them.”

This guidebook was a necessary and timely project for the duo to work on. Even though both carried fulltime jobs they describe the book as a labor of love. 

“I consider these women my family now,” McDowell said. “There’s Mama Elam. Mama Emanuel. Mama (Roberta Evelyn Winston) Martin. These women are a part of me and part of our city.”