The Massachusetts Black and Latino Legislative Council announced the death of former state Sen. Bill Owens at 84.
It's with a heavy heart that we announce the passing of Bill Owens, Massachusetts first Black state senator (pictured right) ... also known as the modern "godfather of reparations."
After a term in the state house of representatives, he served as state senator from the 2nd Suffolk district between 1975 and 1982 and then again from 1989 to 1992.
US Rep. Ayanna Pressley praised Owens:
Devastated by the passing of former State Senator Bill Owens, who broke barriers as the first Black state senator in MA.
Sen. Owens' work on reparations & housing was historic, and we owe him a debt for the trail he blazed.
Statement by Ed Markey, who served with Owens in the state senate between 1973 and 1976:
From the beginning of his career, he fought to ensure that Black families and workers got the rights and representation denied to them. He fought to become the first Black State Senator just like he fought for housing justice, for reparations, for Roxbury Community College, and for equal opportunity for all people of color. He learned the lessons of our nation's history, rewrote them, and then taught the-powers-that-be from his own textbook on building political and economic power.
Owens interviewed on WGBH's "Say Brother" after his election in 1972: