Massachusetts’ First Black State Senator Bill Owens Dies  

In Summary

Bill Owens was one of the first leaders to advocate for reparations for the descendants of enslaved Black people.  

Bill Owens, the first Black state senator in Massachusetts, has died at the age of 84.  

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According to The Associated Press, Owens was an advocate for racial justice and economic equality. He was also one of the first to call for reparations for the descendants of enslaved African Americans.  

He died in his sleep with his family by his side on Saturday. His health began to decline three weeks after testing positive for COVID-19, his family said.  

“We are fortunate to have had him for 84 years and to call him family,” Owens’ loved ones said in a statement. “His legacy will continue in those he has touched, laws he has changed and the children, grandchildren, nieces, and nephews he has loved and influenced.” 

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While in office, Owens helped secure funds to build the Roxbury Community College and created multiple programs to help the Black community, including the State Office of Minority and Women Business Assistance and a youth summer jobs program.  

The Demopolis, Alabama, native moved to Boston when he was 15. He went on to earn degrees from Boston University, Harvard University and the University of Massachusetts Amherst.  

He was first elected to his seat in the state House in 1972 and he served two terms.  

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Tributes to Owens began pouring in online, with many crediting him for his passion for equality and justice.  

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