Jimmie Bugg Middleton – Jimmie Middleton was the President and National Treasurer of the National Association of College Women. She also served as Dean of Girls at the Black High School in Raleigh, North Carolina. She was an active supporter of Delta from Lynchburgh, Virginia. She helped lobby Delta Sigma Theta to participate in the march for Women’s Suffrage. In 1936, she received her Master’s Degree at Howard University. By 1938, after years of effort, the Raleigh Alumnae Chapter, Alpha Zeta Sigma, was established in Raleigh, North Carolina. In 1944, she was appointed to the Scholarship Board of New York’s 22nd Congressional District.
May Week was created at the second national convention of Delta Sigma theta Sorority, Inc. in 1920, at Wilberforce University. Since its conception in 1921, May Week has been observed by local chapters around the world. The purpose of May Week is to emphasize the importance of higher education in the community, especially for Black women. The slogan “Invest in Education” was adopted, and a week in May is set aside for programs highlighting academic and professional achievement.
St. Philip’s College (SPC) is a multi-campus institution of the Alamo Community College District in San Antonio, Texas. It one of the fastest growing colleges in the southwest. With a student population per semester that exceeds 8,000, it ranks as one of the largest and most diverse of the 160 historically black colleges and universities.
The success SPC enjoys today is the result of the 52 years of her life that Artemisia Bowden devoted to provide for the educational, cultural and economic needs of campus. Born in 1879 the daughter of a former slave in Albany Georgia, Ms. Bowden graduated from St. Augustine’s in 1900.
With two years teaching experience in North Carolina, Ms. Bowden moved to San Antonio to accept the position of chief administrator and primary teacher of St. Philip’s Normal and Industrial School. The school had been founded in 1898 for the Episcopalian Church by Bishop James Steptoe Johnston, the son of a Mississippi plantation owner. Initially, the school was a day school, consisting of two classrooms where sewing was taught to young African American girls.
Ms. Bowden served as principal of the school, where her first charge was to organize the school into three departments, primary, grammar and industrial. Later she increased the staff of instructors and expanded the course work in each department. Boarding facilities were added, a normal and a music department were added and a kindergarten was organized off campus. By 1908, the school’s enrollment had reached a very crowded high of 117 students. However, in 1913, the enrollment was down to 85; the school continued to be under funded by the Diocese and was on the brink of financial ruin.
Retaining her vision of the school becoming a great institution of learning, Ms. Bowden took on the responsibility for fundraising for the school in addition to her teaching and administrative duties. Not afraid to ask anyone she thought would give her a donation, she raised funds to make an initial payment to buy approximately four acres, including a two-story brick house and two frame buildings in east San Antonio. In 1918, the school moved to its present location.
By 1921, St. Philip’s began receiving approximately $2,000 annually from the American Church Institute for Negroes, an Episcopal organization. With financial security in place, Ms. Bowden set a new goal – to establish St. Philip’s as a junior college. In 1927, with the support of the mayor, the Chamber of Commerce and a number of African American organizations and business people, St. Philip’s Junior College and Industrial School became a reality when it officially opened. Ms. Bowden’s title changed from Principal to President of the newly established junior college.
The Great Depression brought new challenges for Ms. Bowden and her beloved St. Philip’s Junior College. By 1940, the Episcopal Church relinquished all ties to the college, leaving it again, at the brink of financial ruin. Ms. Bowden refused to allow the school to die and began a campaign to have the San Antonio Board of Education assume responsibility for the school. The board had, since 1926, operated a public junior college for whites only, which was supported by city taxes. Although African Americans living in San Antonio helped support the college through taxes they paid, none were allowed admission.
Reluctantly, in 1942, the San Antonio Board of Education incorporated St. Philip’s into the municipal junior college system operating it as a branch of San Antonio Junior College. The president of San Antonio Junior College also administered the St. Philip’s Branch and Ms. Bowden was no longer the President, but became the Dean of St. Philip’s Branch.
Ms. Bowden did graduate work during the summers at Columbia University, Cheyney State Teachers’ College, the New York School of Social Work and the University of Colorado. In 1952 she received an honorary doctorate from Tillotson College in Austin, Texas. Ms. Bowden held memberships in the National Association of College Women’s Clubs and several state and national associations for professional educators. In 1947, she was named to the Texas Commission on Interracial Relations.
Ms. Bowden devoted her time not only to St. Philip’s but also to civic projects benefiting African Americans in greater San Antonio. She is given primary credit for securing Lindberg Park for African American residents, establishing the East End Settlement House, and the introduction of a African American nursing unit in Robert B. Green Hospital. She was a member of the Southern Conference of Christians and Jews and of St. Philip’s Episcopal Church in San Antonio.
When she retired in 1954, Ms. Bowden was given the title Dean Emeritus. At her retirement she summed up her years of work with, “My dream is a reality.” She died in San Antonio on August 18, 1969.
The National Council of Negro Women cited Artemisia Bowden as one of the ten most outstanding women educators in the country. A member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc., many local organizations recognized her lifetime of service, including Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Inc., which named her woman of the year in 1955. An elementary school in San Antonio and the San Antonio Chapter of the Business and Professional Women, Inc. are named in her honor. St. Philip’s College honors her with an endowed scholarship in her name and with the Bowden Administration Building located on campus.
Although Artemisia Bowden never married and had no children, her life touched so many and continues to assure that generations will obtain a valuable education in San Antonio.
By – Soror Linda Everett Moyé