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essence posed wearing glasses and scarf

Essence McDowell is a communications strategist, organizer and coauthor 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 National, the Chicago Public Library and Chicago Teachers Union. She creates 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 Love and Protect.  She also has served on the board of the Chicago Freedom School.


In 2018, Essence wrote 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 fall of 2022.   

Essence currently works as Director of Communications at the Social Justice Initiative. She is currently collaborating with organizers in Chicago to develop a resource hub for a national Black Women's Organizing Coalition.


Want to know more?   Click here for an extended bio.  

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