Every day this month, the Center for Black Educator Development, in partnership with Phillys7thWard.org and Citizen Ed, will highlight a Black Educator Hall of Famer. But, don’t forget, e’ry month is Black History Month…February is just the Blackest.
Today, our featured Black Educator is Eva del Vakia Bowles.
Eva Bowles was born in Albany, Ohio on January 24, 1875. She was educated in Albany, Ohio school system. After graduation from high school, Bowles continued her education at Bliss Business College in Columbus while taking summer classes at Ohio State University. Bowles also studied social Work at Columbia University’s school of philanthropy.
Bowles began her career as a teacher at several black colleges: Chandler Normal School in Lexington, Kentucky; St. Augustine’s College of Raleigh, North Carolina, and St. Paul’s School in Lawrenceville, Virginia. However, her first employment was teacher at the Chandler Normal School in Lexington, KY; Bowles was the first African American teacher at the school.
Bowles as a third-generation educator; her paternal grandfather first Black teacher hired by the Ohio Public School Fund and her father was the first Black principal of a school in Marietta, Ohio.
Bowles, an African American pioneer in the women’s YMCA, became the first local secretary in New York City and the first Black national secretary. Bowles was elected to the national board in 1911 and initiated A Black branch in the YMCA and established branches throughout the country; supervising Black workers until she retired in 1935.
So impressed with her work, Theodore Roosevelt gave Bowles a special citation and donated his Nobel peace prize money to her YWCA program.
In addition to the YMCA, Bowles was also an active member in the following organizations: the Urban League, the National Interracial Conference, the American Interracial Peace Committee, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, the National League of Women Voters, the Commission of Church and Race Relations of the Federal Council of Churches, and her denominational Episcopalian Women’s Interracial Council.
In 1932, Bowles resigned from the YWCA, having become disillusioned with their reorganization plans. She continued to work for the National Colored Merchants Association, as association secretary, and the National Negro Business League, as chair of the women’s auxiliary; joining their joint offices as an employee to help improve the economic opportunities of Blacks.
Eva del Vakia Bowles; a member of the Black Educator Hall of Fame.
For more information on Eva del Vakia Bowles, visit the following site.