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Brian Purnell

librarian, community activist, and six-term member of the House of Representatives (1983–2007). Major Robert Odell Owens was born 28 June 1936 in Collierville, Tennessee, near Memphis. He was the second of eight children born to Edna Owens, a homemaker, and Ezekiel Owens a furniture factory worker During Major Owens s childhood Memphis was racially segregated and African Americans were forced to live in separate neighborhoods attend inferior schools and make do with other Jim Crow public facilities Despite these poor conditions the Owens parents nurtured in their children a belief that advancement would come through thrift diligence and academic success In the Owens household Ezekiel gave small monetary gifts when one of his children memorized a historic speech and Edna organized games that quizzed the children on their knowledge of state capitals and advanced spelling From an early age Major excelled in these academic ...