Former Rep. Major Owens of Brooklyn Dies at 77

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  • 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.

    “New York City has lost a champion who exemplified the very best of what a Congress member can be,” City Comptroller John Liu said in a statement. “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’s 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.

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