February 26, 2008

Legislature to honor Corinne Owens Thursday

Racine civil rights activist Corinne Owens has been named a Hometown Hero by the Wisconsin State Assembly. Ms. Owens, active in the Racine community for 60 years, was nominated for the award by Rep. Cory Mason, D-Racine. She will be honored on Thursday, Feb. 28 at 10 a.m. in the State Capitol’s Assembly Chambers.

The Hometown Hero award is presented to outstanding citizens during each two-year session of the Assembly. Members of the community are nominated by their state representatives and winners are chosen by either the Speaker or Minority leader. Those selected as Hometown Heroes are given the award and honored in front of the State Assembly.

Corinne Owens arrived in Racine in 1946. She began her career as a teacher in Mississippi but was denied a teaching job in Racine due to a then district policy that barred African American teachers.

She started the Racine chapter of the NAACP in 1947. Since then, Ms. Owens has led campaigns for fair housing in Racine, more police officers on city streets, and more minority teachers. She has mentored many young people and has organized scholarships to help Racine’s African American youth.

In 1968, she returned to the classroom after more than a 20-year absence. Today, at the age of 95, Ms. Owens is still a dedicated volunteer teacher in the Racine school system. She was inducted into the Southeastern Wisconsin Educator’s Hall of Fame in 1994.

Among many other accomplishments, Corinne Owens was also the first woman and minority to be appointed to the Gateway Technical College Board in 1971. She served as chairwoman of the board from 1978-79.

"I can’t think of anyone more deserving of this award than Ms. Owens," said Rep. Mason. "It is especially appropriate that we acknowledge her during black history month. Ms. Owens has accomplished more than anyone I know and she is still going strong. I am honored to be able present this award to a living legend," he said.

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