Lifting as We Climb

Cora Watson, 1968
Cora Watson, 1968
You might be wondering about our new heading — who the women are and where we got the title “Lifting as We Climb.” Our next few posts will tell you more about the women pictured, but first we’d like to tell you about the title.

“Lifting as We Climb” is the title of our new women’s history exhibit which will open at the Evanston History Center on March 19, 2010. Stay tuned for more on that event and the many others coming up in the next few months. The reason we chose it is that it was the motto of an important Evanston women’s organization and it perfectly describes the efforts of the many women and women’s organizations that we’ve encountered in this project. They all have this in common: while they are climbing to new levels in their own lives, they are also lifting others and the community that surrounds them.

This is especially true of the Iroquois League, from whom we are borrowing the title. The Iroquois League was organized to offer support to the many young, single African-American women who were working in Evanston. The organization was formed in 1917 and its house at 1125 Garnett Place functioned both as a boarding house and social center, and worship services and bible classes were offered as well. In 1926, Cora Watson was elected president and the League began to grow, eventually changing its name to the North Shore Community House. Watson was active in the League for the rest of her life. For a number of years, the motto of the League was “Lifting as We Climb” — it was also the motto of the National Association of Colored Women.

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