Washington (January 24, 2022) – Senator Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.) released the following statement on the passing of former Massachusetts State Senator Bill Owens. Senator Markey served with Owens in the Massachusetts State House from 1973-1976. 


“History may have called on Bill Owens, but he wasn’t going to wait for it. 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. 


“Bill and I came in together as freshmen state representatives. It was a time of unprecedented historical consequence both nationally and in the Commonwealth, and no one was better positioned to lead than Bill Owens. I was proud to support his effort with Doris Bunte and Mel King to create the first majority Black Senate District. The first Black State Senator needed to have a loud voice, and Bill Owens’s was as resonant and powerful and lasting as history required. He worked to create the State Office of Minority Business Assistance and the Summer Youth Jobs Program and for passage of the Assault Weapons Ban. The legacy of that important work continues to this day. 


“For 50 years, Bill Owens was my friend and inspiration. His presence grounded me in the realities of today’s struggles, and his spirit lifted my gaze and countless others to the opportunities and justice that remained to be created for future generations. My deepest condolences go out to the Owens family, his friends, his loved ones, and all of those whose lives have forever been impacted by his pioneering presence and achievements. Bill Owens will be forever missed.”