African American Studies
Interviewees: Carolyn Bowman
Interviewers: Mark Naison, Avery Russell, Diana Joseph, Saudah Muhammad
Transcriber: Kate Caperan
Soror Carolyn Bowman was initiated on the first line of the Eta Omega Omega Chapter of the Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority in 1966. Bowman was born and raised in Harlem, Manhattan. After graduating from Julia Richmond High School, Bowman attended the City College of New York (CCNY) for her undergraduate years, and the Rabinowitz School of Social Work at Hunter College from which she received a Master’s Degree in 1964. She then briefly worked at the Brooklyn Bureau of Community Service in Foster Care and Adoption. After passing the examination to become a clinician in the New York City Board of Education, Bowman worked as a social worker in the New York City Board of Education for 30 years from 1966 to her retirement in 1996. In addition to her 30 years at the Board of Education, Bowman also worked as a travel consultant starting in 1980, and continued in this role until 2015. As a travel consultant, she planned cruises all over the world, and was able to travel all over the world.
Bowman became active in the Civil Rights movement in her young adult life. She was active in various organizations including the NAACP, in which she participated in the Youth March on Washington (1958). In her time with the NAACP, she met Aloncita J. Food, a regional director for the Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority. Flood made Bowman promise she would join the AKA’s upon her higher education graduation. In 1966, Bowman officially joined the Bronx Eta Omega Omega Chapter as its youngest member. Within the Eta Omega Omega Chapter, Bowman participated primarily in children and family based initiatives, including working with the families of the Bronx Forest Neighborhood Houses.
Bowman’s advice to the next generation of Eta Omega Omega is to continue to stay active and work because the struggle is not over. Bowman believes it is in the hands of young people to be “the motor” that will push forward progress in the fight for racial justice. Bowman also believes it is of the utmost importance to travel, and learn from other cultures in order to shape a future world.
Naison, Mark, "Carolyn Bowman" (2020). Oral Histories. 340.