Essence McDowell is a communications strategist, organizer and co-author of Lifting As They Climbed: Mapping a History of Black Women on Chicago's South Side. She utilizes media, digital design and communications technologies to amplify the work of community institutions and justice-based organizations.
Essence has worked with numerous national and local entities including Illinois Humanities Council, Chicago Torture Justice Memorials, INCITE! Color of Violence Conference, and Gallery 400. She create digital platforms, organizing tools, and impact strategies to facilitate social change.
As an organizer, she has been a member of the All African People’s Revolutionary Party, Black Youth Project, and most recently Love and Protect. She also has served on the board of the Chicago Freedom School.
In 2018, Essence co-authored Lifting As They Climbed: Mapping a History of Black Women on Chicago's South Side with organizer and educator Mariame Kaba. Due to the success of the publication, the two authors have signed with Haymarket Books to write an extended guidebook set to be released in the summer of 2020.
Essence currently works as Associate Director of Communications at the Social Justice Initiative. As a part of her ongoing work in support of Black women and girls, Essence is working with A Long Walk Home, an organization that creates safe spaces for young women affected by sexual violence. She is also collaborating with organizers in Chicago to develop a resource hub called the Black Women's Organizing Collective.
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