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Bill Owens, first Black man elected to the state senate, dies at 84

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:



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I know you aren’t one of “those” so I’m sure that was just a typo. On another note, 2022 sure has teamed up with the grim reaper with all of the deaths of influential people this month

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Similar first thought, "First Black What Elected?"

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Considering Massachusetts elected a Black guy to the US Senate in 1966, is it really historic that another Black guy got elected to the State Senate in 1975?

It's like breaking through a mime ceiling at that point.

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With bussing erupting the city and racism doing its thing, I’d say it was pretty shocking. I get your sentiment though

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I get your sentiment though

Yes, I also understand that Refugee is trying to downplay Owens' achievement.

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A good man who worked hard for his people. A Public servant to the city and state.

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As a Black man. The title a black is very disheartening. Can you please change it to black man

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