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BOSTON (AP) — Bill Owens, the first Black state senator in Massachusetts who fought for racial justice and economic equality, and was one of the first to call for reparations for the descendants of Black slaves, has died, his family said in a statement.
Owens died in his sleep Saturday with family by his side. His health had been declining for three weeks after testing positive for COVID-19, the family said. Bill Owens was 84.
“We are fortunate to have had him for 84 years and to call him family,” the statement said. “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.”
Furthermore, his accomplishments were securing funds to build Roxbury Community College, establishing the State Office of Minority and Women Business Assistance, and launching a youth summer jobs program.
First elected to the state House in 1972, he served two terms in the Senate from 1974 until 1992.
Originally from Demopolis, Alabama, he moved to Boston when he was 15 years old.
According to the state archives, Owens attended Boston English High School. He subsequently earned degrees from Boston University, Harvard University, and the University of Massachusetts Amherst.