Major R. Owens (born June 28, 1936) is a New York politician, currently representing the state's 11th Congressional district (map), in the United States House of Representatives.
Owens was born in Collierville, Tennessee. He has a bachelor's degree from Morehouse College and a master of 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.
In 1982, he was elected to the U.S. 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, the heavily Caribbean areas of Flatbush and East Flatbush, and the upscale neighborhood of Park Slope.
Although Owens won the Democratic primary with just 45f the vote, he was re-elected in 2004 with 94f the vote. He plans to retire from the House at the end of his term in January 2007. Due to the extreme Democratic lean of his district, it is almost certain he will be replaced by another Democrat in the 2006 election.
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.
Once declared in a speech on the floor of the House of Representatives that a hundred million blacks perished on the journey from Africa to America, and that so many of the dead were thrown overboard that, TO THIS DAY, sharks still follow the routes taken by the slave ships.
Owens is also the father of actor Geoffrey Owens, best known for playing the role of Elvin on The Cosby Show.