Major Owens

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Major Owens served the 11th Congressional district of New York from 1983 to 2007

Major Owens was a Democrat and New York politician who represented the state's 11th Congressional district (map)in the United States House of Representatives from 1983 to 2007. He opted to retire rather than seek reelection in 2006.



Major Robert Odell Owens was born June 28, 1936 in Collierville, Tennessee. He has a bachelor's degree from Morehouse College and a master of library science degree from Atlanta University. Owens was a librarian before entering politics. He was elected to the New York state Senate in 1974 as a Democrat.

Congressional Career

In 1982, he was elected to the House of Representatives replacing the retiring Shirley Chisholm. One of his achievements in the House was the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Owens represents a very diverse district located entirely within Brooklyn, New York. His district includes low income areas of Brownsville, a large Hasidic area of Crown Heights and the upscale neighborhood of Park Slope.

Although Owens won the Democratic primary with just 45% of the vote, he was re-elected in 2004 with 94% of the vote.

Iraq War

Owens voted against the Authorization for Use of Military Force Against Iraq Resolution of 2002 that started the Iraq War.[1]

For more information see the chart of U.S. House of Representatives votes on the Iraq War.

2006 elections

Owens retired from the House at the end of his term in January 2007.


The character Mark Richardson in the popular television program The West Wing is believed to be based on Owens. Richardson plays an African-American Congressman from Brooklyn who looks a lot like Owens.

Owens is nicknamed the "Rappin' Rep" since he writes raps. His rap songs are often political and liberal in nature. He posts them on his official Congressional website.

Owens is also the father of actor Geoffrey Owens, best known for playing the role of Elvin on The Cosby Show.

Meet the Cash Constituents

Links to more campaign contribution information for Major Owens
from the Center for Responsive Politics' site.
Fundraising profile: 2006 election cycle Career totals
Top contributors by organization/corporation: 2006 election cycle Career totals
Top contributors by industry: 2006 election cycle Career totals


Committees and Affiliations

Committees in the 109th Congress (2005-2006)

Coalitions and Caucuses

  • Government Operations, 1983-1994
  • Congressional Black Caucus
  • Congressional Black Caucus Higher Education Brain Trust
  • Associate Member, Congressional Hispanic Caucus
  • Co-Chair for Caucus Programs, Congressional Progressive Caucus
  • Congressional Urban Caucus

Boards and other Affiliations

  • Member, SECME Incorporated, 2000-present
  • Member, Morehouse College Alumni Association, 2000-present
  • Member, Brooklyn National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, 1987-present
  • Member, American Library Association, 1986-present
  • Member, New York Jobs with Justice
  • Board, Central Brooklyn Martin Luther King Commission, 1983-present
  • Coalition for Community Empowerment, 1982-present
  • Founder, National Commission for African American Education, 1991-2002
  • Board, Bedford Stuvesant Youth in Action, 1965-1967
  • Chariman, Brooklyn Congress of Racial Equality, 1964-1966
  • Americans for Democratic Action

More Background Data

Wikipedia also has an article on Major Owens. This article may use content from the Wikipedia article under the terms of the GFDL.

Articles and Resources

Local blogs and discussion sites


DC Office:
2309 Rayburn House Office Building
Washington, DC 20515-3211
Phone: 202-225-6231
Fax: 202-226-0112
Email: major.owens AT
Web Email

District Office- Brooklyn (1):
289 Utica Avenue
Brooklyn, NY 11213-4997
Phone: 718-773-3100
Fax: 718-735-7143

District Office- Brooklyn (2):
1414 Cortelyou Road
Brooklyn, NY 11226


  1. Roll call vote, Authorization for Use of Military Force Against Iraq Resolution of 2002.