Willard Bowman, ca. 1973. Photo from the Alaska Blue Book, 1973.
JUNEAU – With February being Black History Month, the Alaska State Archives has digitized and placed online ten speeches by African-American human and civil rights figure Willard L. Bowman (1919-1975). The full text of his Alaskan speeches from the 1960s are available online via Alaska’s Digital Archives.
Bowman was born in Grand Rapids, Michigan, served in the U.S. Navy during World War II, and was educated in Ohio. Bowman moved to Alaska in 1950 and during the 1950s and early 1960s he worked as a laborer, union member, and active member of the NAACP in Anchorage. In 1963 he was appointed by Governor Egan to serve as the inaugural Director of the Alaska State Commission for Human Rights. The purpose of the Commission is to enforce Alaska Human Rights Law. Bowman served as the Director of the Commission until 1970. In 1970 he ran as a Democrat to serve in the Alaska House of Representatives and won. He was one of Alaska’s first African-American legislators. He eventually served three consecutive terms in the House of Representatives (served 1970-1975). He passed away in 1975.
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