This Week In Texas Music History: Iola Bowden Chambers
This Week in Texas Music History, we’ll meet a woman who used music to break down the barriers of racial segregation.
Iola Bowden Chambers died on December 14, 1978. Born in Holder, Texas, on October 18, 1904, Chambers graduated from Daniel Baker College in Brownwood and went on to study piano at the Washington Conservatory of Music. After returning to Texas, she began teaching piano at Southwestern University in Georgetown in 1933. An early white proponent of African-American education, Iola Chambers helped found the Negro Fine Arts School in 1941.
For the next 25 years, Chambers and her students from Southwestern University gave piano lessons to scores of local African-American children, helping many of them earn scholarships to attend college. One of her pupils, Charles Miller, became the first black student ever to enroll at Southwestern University. Iola Bowden Chambers devoted the remainder of her life to promoting equal educational opportunities for all Texas children.
Next time on This Week in Texas Music History, we’ll remember a talented musician who traded in the nightclubs for the classroom.