Manet Harrison Fowler – Welcome to the City of Fort Worth

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Posted on February 11, 2022

Black History Month, celebrated in February, is a time to honor the contributions and legacy of African Americans throughout American history and society, including activists, civil rights pioneers and leaders from industry, politics, science, culture and more. In the spirit of this mission, every Monday, Wednesday and Friday for the remainder of the month, a local black hero will be featured in the hope that their stories will inspire you throughout the year to explore other agents of change fascinating.

Manet Harrison Fowler was born in Fort Worth on August 30, 1895. She was the daughter of Taylor Henry and Carrie (Vickers) Harrison and the eldest of eight children. Her parents were from Louisiana and her mother was of Creole descent.

Harrison displayed amazing musical aptitude at a very young age. At age 4, she performed at the family’s local Baptist church. By the age of 6, she had become proficient enough on the piano to accompany adult choirs. She began formal piano studies at age 7 with Jeanie Marie Rowe.

Harrison graduated with highest honors from (what is now) IM Terrell High School in Fort Worth. She attended Tuskegee Institute in 1912 and studied under George Washington Carver. She graduated from this institution in 1913 and later studied at Chicago Musical College. In Chicago, she also studied painting at the Art Institute and trained as a soprano with Eva Brown at the American Conservatory.

Back in Texas, she taught music at Prairie View State Normal and Industrial College.

She married Stephen Hamilton Fowler of Fort Worth on July 28, 1915; they had five children.

Manet Fowler has been active in civic affairs and in advancing arts and culture in the African-American community in Fort Worth. She became director of the choir at Mount Gilead Baptist Church and was a co-founder of the Texas Association of Negro Musicians in 1926. Fowler later became a board member and secretary of the National Association of Negro Musicians. She wrote charity contests for the YMCA; her husband had founded the Black YMCA in Fort Worth.

Fowler founded the Mwalimu School in Fort Worth in 1928. The word mwalimu translates to “the teacher” in an African language. The school provided artistic education to African Americans. Music education included lessons in piano, notation, sight singing, ear training, church music, public school music, and terminology.

An accomplished composer, Fowler wrote a musical, “The Voice”, for the National Baptist Convention in Chicago in 1930. She wrote a symphonic poem, “Come Let Us Sing!” for honor students at IM Terrell High School in Fort Worth, and she participated in music and debate programs at the school from 1930 to 1932.

Fowler was also an artist, and her oil paintings and watercolors depicted civil rights and religious themes, as well as landscapes and portraits.

In 1932, Fowler moved his Mwalimu school to Harlem in New York. There she led the Mwalimu Choir in many performances. The Dallas Morning News reported on a performance of the choir, conducted by Fowler, at New York’s Steinway Hall in March 1934. The presentation included selections of African music and several songs sung in the East African Yoruba language. Where is. His school played a key role in the Harlem Renaissance.

Fowler’s daughter, Manet Helen Fowler, became the first African-American woman to earn a doctorate. in cultural anthropology in the United States. The two continued to remain involved in professional pursuits in Fort Worth and Tarrant County.

Her husband died in New York in 1965. Manet Harrison Fowler died in February 1976 in New York. His papers are in collections at Yale University and Emory University. Many of his watercolors are on display at the Juneteenth Museum in Fort Worth.

Source: Texas State Historical Association.

Photo: Manet Harrison Fowler

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