Jarrett was born in Shiraz, Iran, to American parents James E. Bowman and Barbara Taylor Bowman. One of her maternal great-grandfathers, Robert Robinson Taylor, was an architect who is sometimes cited as the first accredited African American architect.
James Edward Bowman was born on February 5, 1923, in Washington, D.C., the son of Dorothy (Peterson), a homemaker, and James Edward Bowman, Sr., a dentist. He attended Dunbar High School. He earned his undergraduate and medical degrees from Howard University in 1943 and 1946. He did medical internships at Freedmen's Hospital in Washington D.C. and at Provident Hospital in Chicago, Illinois. His residency in pathology was at St. Luke's Hospital in Chicago where he was the first African American resident.
Bowman is African American and was married to the late medicalist James E. Bowman, renowned pathologist and geneticist of African American descent, and the first black Resident at St. Luke’s Hospital. They have one daughter, Valerie Jarrett, Senior Advisor and Assistant to the President for Intergovernmental Affairs and Public Liaison in the Obama administration. Their granddaughter, Laura Jarrett, graduated from Harvard Law School in 2010 and married  Tony Balkissoon, June 2012.
What the hell were they doing in Iran in 1956?