Sunday, December 23, 2007
Rep. Julia Carson Passes Away
I was saddened to learn about the death of US Rep. Julia Carson (D-IN) to lung cancer on December 15 at age 69. There was a lively memorial service for her in the Indiana Statehouse Rotunda Friday night and Rep. Carson's funeral was yesterday.
When I moved to Da Ville in 2001, because the congressional rep for this city at the time was the odious Anne Northup (R-KY) and I'd never been without Congressional Black Caucus representation in my life since the group's founding in 1971, I considered Julia Carson my congresswoman even though her district was up I-65 from me in Indianapolis. I shared that tidbit with the staffers in her office when I visited it during the lobby days I participated in back in May.
While I'm happy that John Yarmuth (D-KY) now ably represents the KY 3rd District and I've talked to him on a few occasions about various issues, I still considered Julia my rep as well. I found out later during my visit that she was actually born in Louisville, but grew up in Indy.
She was a remarkable and trailblazing woman that touched many people's lives. As I mentioned, she was born in Louisville in 1938 to an unwed teenage mother, but rose from those circumstances to get elected in 1972 to the Indiana state house. She ran in two dozen local, state and congressional races without ever suffering a defeat.
She became the first Black and first woman to represent Indianapolis and Indiana's 7th District in Congress when she won the first of her seven congressional terms in 1994. She'd announced that she wouldn't run again after she revealed that she had cancer.
"Not only did she make it, but she reached back to help other people to achieve and other people to make it, too," said Jeffrey Johnson, pastor of Eastern Star Church, where her four-hour long funeral service was held and attended by 2000 people. "She was for the poor, she was for the seniors, she was for our soldiers, she was for our country and she was for the community that she came out of."
The funeral and state house remembrance attendees came from all over the country and included some of her CBC colleagues, Rev. Jesse Jackson. Sr.,Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels (R-IN), Sen. Richard Lugar (R-IN) and Sen. Evan Bayh (D-IN), Former Indiana Sen. Birch Bayh (D-IN), former Indianapolis mayor Bart Peterson and longtime friend and former Gary, IN mayor Richard Hatcher.
The people of Indianapolis, the state of Indiana and the nation lost a giant woman on December 15. Whoever succeeds her in that seat will have a giant pair of shoes to fill. This country would be a much better place if we had more public servants and members of Congress like her. She will definitely be missed.