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Major R Owens

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Preceded by  Shirley Chisholm
Preceded by  Edolphus Towns
Political party  Democratic
Party  Democratic Party
Succeeded by  Nydia Velazquez
Succeeded by  Yvette Clarke
Name  Major Owens
Major R. Owens httpsuploadwikimediaorgwikipediacommonsaa
Born  June 28, 1936 Collierville, Tennessee (1936-06-28)
Alma mater  Morehouse College Clark Atlanta University
Role  Former New York State Senator
Died  October 21, 2013, Manhattan, New York City, New York, United States
Previous office  New York State Senator (1975–1982)
Children  Geoffrey Owens, Chris Owens, Millard Owens
Education  Clark Atlanta University, Morehouse College
Ex-spouse  Ethel Werfel Owens, Maria Cuprill

Zinga Fraser's Tribute to Congressman Major R. Owens

Major Robert Odell Owens (June 28, 1936 – October 21, 2013) was a New York politician and a prominent member of the Democratic Party who served in the United States House of Representatives from 1983 to 2007, representing the state's 11th Congressional district. He retired at the end of his term in January 2007 and was succeeded by Yvette Clarke.


Early life

Owens was born in Collierville, Tennessee. He received a bachelor's degree from Morehouse College and a master of science degree from Atlanta University. Owens was a librarian before entering politics.

Political career

During the 1960s, Owens served under Mayor John Lindsay, heading New York City's Community Development Agency. He was a member of the New York State Senate from 1975 to 1982, sitting in the 181st, 182nd, 183rd and 184th New York State Legislatures.

In 1982, he was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives, replacing the retiring Shirley Chisholm. He voted to pass the Americans with Disabilities Act in the U.S. House of Representatives. He represented a diverse district located within Brooklyn, New York. His district included low income areas of Brownsville, a large Hasidic area of Crown Heights, the heavily Caribbean areas of Flatbush and East Flatbush, and the now upscale neighborhood of Park Slope. Although Owens won the 2004 Democratic primary with just 45.44% of the vote, he was re-elected in 2004 general election with 94% of the vote. He retired from the House at the end of his term in January 2007. Due to the extreme Democratic leaning of his district, there was little surprise his successor would be a Democrat.

In the 2006 election, Yvette Clarke, who ran against him in the 2004 primary, won the 2006 primary nomination to succeed him, and was elected with 89% of the votes.

Owens was one of 31 who voted in the House to not count the electoral votes from Ohio in the United States presidential election, 2004. [1]. He was a member of the Congressional Progressive Caucus. He received an "A" on the Drum Major Institute's 2005 Congressional Scorecard on middle-class issues.

Medgar Evers College

Owens served as a faculty member in the Department of Public Administration at Medgar Evers College.


Major Owens was married twice, first to Ethel (nee Werfel), of Ashkenazi Jewish descent, with whom he had three sons: Brooklyn politician Chris Owens, actor Geoffrey Owens (best known for playing "Elvin" on The Cosby Show), and Milard Owens.


Owens died October 21, 2013 in New York City of renal and heart failure. He was 77 and is survived by his wife, Maria Owens, his three sons from his first marriage, two step-children from his second marriage, four grandchildren, and five step-grandchildren.


Major R. Owens Wikipedia

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