Dancer, Professor, Queer Activist Angela Bowen Dead at 82

Bowen

After fighting Alzheimer's disease, activist and dance icon Dr. Angela Bowen died in Long Beach, Calif., earlier this month, reports The New York Times.

Most recently a professor at California State University, Long Beach, Bowen taught in the English and the women’s, gender and sexuality studies departments. Bowen was a beloved fixture on campus who passed on her organizing and activism to her students. Bowen's career in higher education was just one of many acts in her 82 well-lived years. 

Born in Boston, Bowen's father died when she was 2. At age 14, Bowen's mother encouraged her to study dance and she instantly took to it. After graduating, Bowen joined a jazz revue that toured Europe and depicted historical moments in African-American culture.

Upon returning to the U.S. in the early 1960s, Bowen married Ken Peters, and they established a dance school in a low-income neighborhood of New Haven, Conn. The Bowen/Peters School of Dance operated for nearly two decades, transforming the lives of many underprivileged children and acting as a springboard for talent.

Following the school's closure in 1982, Bowen and Peters divorced; Bowen then came out as a lesbian. She then dove headfirst into activism, becoming active in the National Coalition of Black Lesbians and Gays. Bowen was a regular presence at queer rights rallies and marches in the 1980s and '90s.

Bowen then become Dr. Bowen, earing a doctorate in women's studies from Massachusetts's Clark University, where her dissertation centered on queer writer, activist, and icon Audre Lorde. Bowen then moved to Long Beach with her wife, Jennifer Lynn Abod, to teach.

Aside from Abod, Bowen is survived by two sisters, two daughters, a stepdaughter, a foster daughter, and a granddaughter.

A film was made about Bowen's life, The Passionate Pursuits of Angela Bowen. Watch the trailer below. 

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