Monday, January 28, 2008

An Optimistic (On Camera!) Interview with Major Owens about Barack Obama

Up until now, you’ve only experienced Brooklyn Optimism in word. But starting today, this blog is expanding to spread optimism to the eyes and ears of Brooklynites like you by featuring all-original documentary news shorts about the borough.

This first segment is An Optimistic Interview with former Brooklyn Congressman Major Owens about why he has chosen to support Barack Obama’s candidacy for President. The Optimist caught up with Congressman Owens the morning of the South Carolina Primary (before we knew the winner) at Medgar Evers College, where he has just begun teaching as an adjunct professor.

Congressman Owens has stayed vigorously involved in community activism since he retired from office in 2007 after 24 years of representing one of Brooklyn's most racially and economically diverse districts. The only professional librarian ever elected to Congress, Major Owens has also recently completed a book for which he is seeking a publisher. It's called The Peacock Elite: An Intimate Case Study of the Congressional Black Caucus and its Impact on National Politics.

Owens' former seat, now occupied by Rep. Yvette Clarke, has its own special place in the history of the Congressional Black Caucus. Before Owens, it was occupied by one of the founding members of the Caucus, Shirley Chisholm, who in 1972 became the first black woman to run for President of the United States. She garnered an impressive 152 delegates, but ultimately lost the Democratic Primary to South Dakota Senator George McGovern.

Later that day, I seized the moment to interview Rep. Owens’ son, Chris Owens, about the state of Brooklyn politics today. I’ll be debuting that interview later this week on

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