This is the story about a young black girl who came of age during the Jim Crow era in the 1940s and 50s in Roxbury, Massachusetts, and how her early home life and experiences influenced her passions, mission and strategies for survival over six decades.
I am inspired by Angela’s story in The Passionate Pursuits of Angela Bowen. I had recently heard from Jennifer Abod, Angela’s partner of 35 years who explained that the journey of the film is a story in itself. Angela’s Alzheimers continues to progress as Jennifer works hard to bring this film to life.
Against the backdrop of Black empowerment worldwide, women’s demands, and the establishment of LGBT political identity, the film traces Dr. Bowen’s career path from the performing arts through social activism to her professorship at California State University, where she taught for 13 years. A classical dancer, choreographer, dance teacher, entrepreneur, social justice activist, and professor, Angela Bowen has influenced and inspired untold numbers by speaking out as strongly for the arts as she has for Black, Women’s and LGBT rights.
Bowen’s stories and compelling interviews with her dance mentor, former dance partner, former students—dance and academic—lesbian and gay activists, educators, family members, and colleagues, illuminate the challenges that she faced, the depth of her Influence, and encompass the major cultural and social justice movements of our time.
The film reveals how Bowen managed to be her authentic self wherever and whenever she stood—from the stages of the La Scala Opera House to the university classroom. The “B” roll footage, historic photographs, and musical selections mirror the decades from the 1930s to the present.
As the mother of Black Feminism, Audre Lorde had a message to all white women, and wanted us to work through our differences to build a future for all women. I met Audre Lorde in the early 1980s through Angela Bowen, my now spouse, wife, and love of my life for 35 years. I had been part of the women’s movement beginning in 1969, in New Haven, Connecticut during the heady years. (I was the singer in the New Haven Women’s Liberation Rock Band 1970-1976). By1979, the “movement” in New Haven was losing steam. That was the year I heard Angela speak at a Take Back the Night March. Meeting her changed my life on every level. Angela was a black lesbian feminist just coming into her own in her forties. Our differences were endless, but we fell in love and the rest is herstory.
As a media person, (I was a radio broadcaster for 19 years, and was the first women in the State of Connecticut to have my own nightly radio talk show, in New Haven), I translated what I had been learning about race and class from a feminist perspective into my independent documentary work and changed the course of my career.
This project began 12 years ago. I want to let people know about the film’s existence so that people can bring it into their homes and into their communities and campuses. Of course contributions and donations continue to be critical as we birth the film.
The Passionate Pursuits of Angela Bowen by Jennifer Abod will be in Boston & New Haven & San Francisco in JUNE!
Outside the Frame: Radical Queer Film Festival: San Francisco: June 20th, 8PM Brava Theater
The Roxbury International Film Festival: Wednesday, June 24th. Museum of Fine Arts at 8PM.