Schumer, Gillibrand, Clarke Push Bill Honoring Major Owens

You have no power at all if you do not exercise constant power.
Thre late U.S. Rep. Major Owens

Three of Brooklyn’s federal lawmakers are looking to honor the late U.S. Rep. Major Owens (D-Central Brooklyn) as they introduced legislation aimed at renaming a local post office.

The late U.S. Rep. Major Owens

U.S. Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-NY) and U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), along with U.S. Rep. Yvette Clarke (D-Crown Heights, Flatbush, Lefferts Gardens, East Flatbush, Brownsville, Midwood, Sheepshead Bay)  announced a new bill to rename the U.S. Post Office at 1234 Saint Johns Place in Crown Heights for the lawmaker.

Owens served New Yorkers in public office for 32 years, first serving in the New York State Assembly from 1975 to 1982, and then succeeding Shirley Chisholm as the Representative for New York’s 12th Congressional District.

The district was originally created in 1968 as a federal court-ordered voting rights district, because until that time only whites represented Brooklyn in Congress due to gerrymandering, despite a large number of blacks living in the borough.

During his time in Congress, Owens was a fierce advocate for education, gun control, and equal rights. Owens retired in 2007 before passing away in 2013.

U.S. Senator Charles Schumer
U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand

“Brooklynites, like myself, will never forget Rep. Major Owens’s tireless leadership, ability to deliver for his district, good-hearted nature and commitment to the all-American value of equality. I can think of no better way to honor the legacy of my dear friend, Rep. Major Owens, than to name this Brooklyn post office in his honor,” said Schumer.

Schumer went on to applaud Owens’ tireless work as an educational advocate, citing his work for the public library system. Owens viewed education as “the kingpin issue,” as he put it in an article he wrote for the publication Black Issues in Higher Education. “We have to believe that all power and progress really begins with education,” he wrote, according to the New York Times.

“Congressman Major Owens was a tireless leader and fighter throughout his distinguished career. His role as a community activist, his successes as an advocate for equal rights and education, and his dedication to public service improved the lives of countless New Yorkers and people throughout the country. This honor will be a fitting tribute to his many years of service,” said Gillibrand.

Congresswoman Yvette Clarke

While in office, Owens represented an overwhelmingly Democratic bloc of the borough that included Crown Heights and parts of Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brownsville, Flatbush and Park Slope. The district encompassed stretches of severe blight and poverty, along with areas of middle-class stability and pockets of affluence.

Clarke introduced the companion legislation on the House side with the full support of the New York delegation.

“It was in our beloved Brooklyn, that Major Robert Odell Owens began his storied career. He was a librarian, a community activist, a Congressman, and a trailblazer,” said Clarke.

Prior to his decades in public office, Owens was actively involved in serving the Brooklyn community. He was the community coordinator at the Brooklyn Public Library, chairman of the Brooklyn Congress of Racial Equality (CORE), vice president of the Metropolitan Council of Housing, executive director of the Brownsville Community Council, commissioner of the Community Development Agency in New York City, and director of the Community Media Library Program at Columbia University.

“Congressman Owens spent over two decades selflessly serving the people of Brooklyn. His lifetime of public service and unwavering commitment to working families embodies the very best of the American spirit and ideals and I was proud to call him my Congressman. He deserves this great honor,” added Clarke.