Civic leaders, activist, who established The Twin City Welfare

Abraham Bowie was a noted politician and civic worker of the 1940’s and 50’s. He was a prime mover in efforts to gain voting rights. As head of a local voter’s league he used his influence to gain concessions from Black candidates on behalf of the community. Bowie was another of the prominent leaders of the Black community that came onto the Monroe leadership scene in the 1940s.

Some of his contemporaries, such as Dr. Henry Carroll, Joseph Pendleton, Dr. B. J. Washington and others preceded him in death. As a young man in his 30’s Bowie began to promote the idea of helping the poor in the Black community through the establishment of a Community Chest. The idea took root and the Twin City “Colored” Community Welfare began under the leadership of Rev. Garland Penn. When Rev. Penn died, the young A.H. Bowie was elected to carry the ball. Times were tough during the 40’s. The nation was in a war. Racial discrimination was at its peace and poverty in Monroe was great. Only a handful of Blacks owned their own homes and jobs were scarce as many poor Blacks moved to the city from the farm.

Bowie, along with many of his contemporaries, tried to get whatever help was possible for “Negroes” that was possible, without compromising dignity and respect. Almost single handedly, Bowie worked with white community leaders to achieve United Way funding for the Twin City Welfare. The first funding was $3,000. Bowie’s community involvement branched out. Recognizing that there was little that could be done to help blacks outside of the political process, Bowie joined the efforts of the Rev. Alex Burns, and the late Rev. S. L. Pierce to register Blacks to vote in Monroe in large numbers.

The group’s effort was successful and thousands of Blacks were registered to vote. Young and enterprising he was an insurance man. He also began a string of businesses along 14th Street that included a washeteria, cafes, and the Town House lounge on Desiard Street. When the new militancy of the late 50’s and 60’s began, Bowie was a supporter of the efforts of civil rights workers in the city. He allowed his Town House Lounge to be a meeting place for the “Congress of Racial Equality” despite threats to his life and business.

As C.O.R.E. workers, dressed in overalls and tee shirts, began to move through the community, integrating libraries and lunch counters, protesting race discrimination, Bowie was among the men in community that gave them a place to meet and food to eat.

He was a political ally of former Mayor W. L. Howard. His influence during the Howard years was tremendous, as was that of many of his contemporaries. In the early 60’s Bowie turned his interest toward the electoral politics that was the new Black strategy of the 70’s.

Reapportionment, made possible by the legal maneuvers of A. G. Facen’s “Black Citizen’s Council’ and its attorney Paul Henry Kidd, opened new doors for Blacks to become elected officials. Bowie tossed his hat into the political arena as a candidate for Police Jury. His opponent was 36 year old Abe E. Pierce III, a man whose time had come. Bowie was soundly defeated.

He died in 1987.