Former Rep. Major Owens of Brooklyn dies at 77 - DC News FOX 5 DC WTTG

Former Rep. Major Owens of Brooklyn dies at 77

Posted: Updated:
Major Ownens (House.gov) Major Ownens (House.gov)

KAREN MATTHEWS | AP

NEW YORK (AP) -- Major Owens, a New York City Democrat who served 12 terms in the U.S. House and was credited with helping to pass the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, has died at age 77.

Owens died Monday night at NYU Langone Medical Center of renal failure and heart failure, his son Chris Owens said. The family posted on Owens' Facebook page that "the brave heart of Congressman Major Owens stopped and he joined the ancestors."

Owens represented a Brooklyn congressional district from 1983 to 2007.

"Today, our country mourns the loss of a devoted public servant who dedicated his life to lifting up the voices of those who too often go unheard," House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi said in a statement. "From the classroom to the halls of Congress, Congressman Owens taught all of us what it means to serve with strength, compassion, and commitment to the public good."

New York City Comptroller John Liu said: "New York City has lost a champion who exemplified the very best of what a Congress member can be. His work in helping to pass the Americans with Disabilities Act will serve as one of his lasting legacies."

Owens was born in Collierville, Tenn., and earned a bachelor's degree from Morehouse College and a master of library science at Atlanta University. He worked as a librarian at the Brooklyn Public Library before entering politics.

In the 1960s, Owens worked on anti-poverty programs in the administration of New York City Mayor John Lindsay, and he was elected to the state Senate in 1974.

He was elected to the U.S. House in 1982, succeeding Shirley Chisholm, who retired. Owens' diverse Brooklyn district included heavily Caribbean-American neighborhoods, upscale Park Slope and a large Hasidic area in Crown Heights.

U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer said Owens "had many outstanding traits but none finer than his passion for justice, which burned so brightly in his soul throughout his career and his life."

U.S. Rep. Jerrold Nadler called him "a strong and passionate advocate for workers, those in poverty, Americans with disabilities and others who are too often forgotten by those in power."

Asked to assess his own legacy at a 2006 retirement party, Owens said he was most proud of an amendment to secure funding for 107 historically black colleges. He also said: "I spent my time and energy organizing people. I certainly didn't do it by raising money. Fundraising was my greatest failure."

After leaving Congress, Owens taught in the Department of Public Administration at Brooklyn's Medgar Evers College.

Owens' survivors include his wife, Maria; five children; and eight grandchildren.

His son Chris, a Brooklyn political activist, ran unsuccessfully for the Democratic nomination to succeed his father. Yvette Clarke won the election and has held the seat since Owens retired.

Another son, Geoffrey Owens, is an actor who played Bill Cosby's son-in-law Elvin on "The Cosby Show." He is currently appearing in the Broadway production of "Romeo and Juliet" starring Orlando Bloom and Condola Rashad.

  • Brooklyn NewsBrooklyn NewsMore>>

  • Is NYC the most unhappy city in America?

    Is NYC the most unhappy city in America?

    Wednesday, July 23 2014 10:29 AM EDT2014-07-23 14:29:16 GMT
    When researchers in Canada and Harvard University examined the results of a survey that asked “In general, how satisfied are you with your life?” they found that New York City is the unhappiest city in the country. The data compiled by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that Pittsburgh, Louisville, Milwaukee and Detroit round out the list.
    When researchers in Canada and Harvard University examined the results of a survey that asked “In general, how satisfied are you with your life?” they found that New York City is the unhappiest city in the country. The data compiled by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that Pittsburgh, Louisville, Milwaukee and Detroit round out the list.
  • Two babies get herpes during ritual circumcision

    Two babies get herpes during ritual circumcision

    Wednesday, July 23 2014 9:19 AM EDT2014-07-23 13:19:03 GMT
    The New York City Department of Health has issued an alert after two babies were diagnosed with neonatal herpes this month after undergoing a ritual Jewish circumcision called metzitzah b'peh.  In this type of circumcision the mohel sucks blood directly from the infant's cut penis.  The infants need to be hospitalized and treated with intravenous acyclovir.
    The New York City Department of Health has issued an alert after two babies were diagnosed with neonatal herpes this month after undergoing a ritual Jewish circumcision called metzitzah b'peh.  In this type of circumcision the mohel sucks blood directly from the infant's cut penis.  The infants need to be hospitalized and treated with intravenous acyclovir.
  • 3 NYC boys get recording contract approval

    3 NYC boys get recording contract approval

    Wednesday, July 23 2014 6:34 AM EDT2014-07-23 10:34:12 GMT
    New York City NewsNew York City News
    Three middle school students got permission from a Manhattan judge to sign a multi-year recording contract with Sony. The court's approval allows the heavy metal band, Unlocking the Truth, to record their first single Wednesday for The Cherry Group, a division of Sony. The Brooklyn boys had to get court approval because they are minors.
    Three middle school students got permission from a Manhattan judge to sign a multi-year recording contract with Sony. The court's approval allows the heavy metal band, Unlocking the Truth, to record their first single Wednesday for The Cherry Group, a division of Sony. The Brooklyn boys had to get court approval because they are minors.

Powered by WorldNow

WTTG FOX 5 & myfoxdc
5151 Wisconsin Ave. NW
Washington, DC 20016
Main Number: (202) 244-5151
Newsroom: (202) 895-3000
fox5tips@wttg.com

Didn't find what you were looking for?
All content © Copyright 2000 - 2014 Fox Television Stations, Inc. and Worldnow. All Rights Reserved.
Privacy Policy | Terms of Service | Ad Choices