Chicago Public Library Announces “I’ll Take You There” as One Book, One Chicago Selection

Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Chicago Public Library today announced the 28th One Book, One Chicago (OBOC) selection is I’ll Take You There: Mavis Staples, the Staple Singers, and the Music That Shaped the Civil Rights Era by Greg Kot. OBOC is a citywide program that brings all Chicago residents together to read the same book, and participate in diverse programming and events. This year the program will run through April 2018, and explore the theme Music: The Beat of Our City.

“From singing in her family’s living room in Chicago to marching with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. to launching a successful solo career, Mavis Staples’ journey is brought to life in this biography,” said Mayor Rahm Emanuel. “Chicago Public Library’s selection for this year’s One Book One Chicago celebrates the life of a Chicago living legend, and I am excited for residents across the city to learn about her life.”

I’ll Take You There: Mavis Staples, the Staple Singers, and the Music That Shaped the Civil Rights Era recounts the life and achievements of the lead singer of the Staple Singers, revealing how her family fused diverse musical genres to transcend racism and oppression through song, and discussing her collaborations with fellow artists and her impact on civil rights culture. Staples and her family are Chicago natives and one of the city’s most enduring musical legacies. Critically acclaimed biographer and Chicago Tribune music critic Greg Kot cuts to the heart of Mavis Staples's music, revealing the intimate stories of her sixty-year career. 

“I’m honored and also hopeful that the conversation around the book can help expand people's understanding of the critical role the music of Chicago in general and the Staple Singers in particular played in shaping the civil rights movement, and how Mavis Staples continues to play a major role in the fight for equality today,” said I’ll Take You There author Greg Kot. “Mavis and her family are outstanding examples of Chicago’s deep, musical roots.” 

Joining with more than 20 community partners, CPL will offer Chicagoans a variety of events and programs, including walking tours, art exhibits, discussions, music performances and more, to bring people, businesses and civic agencies together to engage with the book and theme. Free citywide programs will launch in early October.

“We chose Music: The Beat of Our City as this year’s theme to explore the interesting and diverse musical history of Chicago,” said CPL Commissioner Brian Bannon. “We are proud to feature Chicago’s own Mavis Staples in our programming this One Book, One Chicago season.”

One Book, One Chicago is made possible by the Chicago Public Library Foundation, funded through generous support from The Chicago Community Trust and BMO Harris Bank.

Chicago Public Library will host the OBOC keynote program on Thursday, December 14 at 6 p.m. in the Cindy Pritzker Auditorium as Mavis Staples joins author Greg Kot in a lively conversation about music, Chicago and freedom. There will be a book signing following the program.

Additional highlights of this year’s One Book, One Chicago program include:

  • Walking tours by Max Grinnell, urbanologist, exploring neighborhoods in Chicago, like Douglas and Bronzeville discussed in I’ll Take You There.
  • A partnership with Chicago Independent Radio Project (CHIRP) that allows readers to listen to a curated playlist of songs celebrating Music: The Beat of Our City, available online at
  • A partnership with Books on the “L”—where a public transportation commuter may find themselves sitting next to a copy of I’ll Take You There to enjoy on their commute.
  • Create a set of guitar picks and more at CPL’s Maker Lab located on the 3rd floor of the Harold Washington Library Center.

Mavis Staples partnered with Wilco’s Jeff Tweedy and will release a new album, If All I Was Was Black, on November 17 on ANTI. Preorder and listen at Mavis Staples received the 2014 Carl Sandburg Award in the Arts from the Chicago Public Library Foundation and Chicago Public Library.

For a complete list of programs and to learn ways you can engage with other readers, visit

About Chicago Public Library

Since 1873, Chicago Public Library (CPL) has encouraged lifelong learning by welcoming all people and offering equal access to information, entertainment and knowledge through innovative services and programs, as well as cutting-edge technology. Through its 80 locations, the Library provides free access to a rich collection of materials, both physical and digital, and presents the highest quality author discussions, exhibits and programs for children, teens and adults. CPL received the Social Innovator Award from Chicago Innovation Awards; won a National Medal for Library Services from the Institute for Museum and Library Services; was named the first ever winner of the National Summer Learning Association’s Founder’s Award in recognition of its Summer Learning Challenge; and was ranked number one in the U.S., and third in the world by an international study of major urban libraries conducted by the Heinrich Heine University Dusseldorf in Germany. For more information, please call (312) 747-4050 or visit To follow CPL on social media, visit us on Twitter (@chipublib) or Facebook (Chicago Public Library).

About the Chicago Public Library Foundation

The Chicago Public Library Foundation was founded in 1986 as a true public/private partnership with the City of Chicago to ensure the margin of excellence for Chicago’s outstanding Library. Through the support of many civic-minded individuals, corporations and foundations, the Foundation provides on-going funding for collections and a range of community-responsive programs, including Teacher in the Library, CyberNavigators, YOUmedia and One Book, One Chicago. Over the past 30 years, the Foundation has raised $85 million in support for the Chicago Public Library. For more information, visit or call (312) 201-9830.