Author: Veronica Alease Davis

ENTRY

Bowser, Rosa L. Dixon (1855–1931)

Rosa L. Dixon Bowser, educator and civic leader, played a key role in implementing reforms that affected Virginia’s African Americans. Bowser was most likely born enslaved. After the American Civil War (1861–1865), she moved to Richmond with her family and enrolled in public school, where she showed remarkable intelligence. She went on to become a teacher in Richmond’s public schools. Her efforts on behalf of educators helped create Virginia’s first professional African American teacher’s association, and she later served as its president. Throughout her teaching career Bowser, like her contemporaries Janie Porter Barrett and Maggie Lena Walker, worked for societal improvement. She played a major role in African American reform organizations, industrial schools for black children, groups supporting universal woman suffrage, and associations publicly opposed to lynching and racial segregation. The first branch of the Richmond public library to be opened for African Americans was named for Bowser in 1925. She died of complications from diabetes in 1931 at her home in Richmond.

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