Remembering Julia Carson 1938-2007 - 13 WTHR Indianapolis

Remembering Julia Carson 1938-2007

Posted: Updated:
Rep. Julia Carson Rep. Julia Carson
Julia Carson's official portrait from her official Congressional website Julia Carson's official portrait from her official Congressional website

Indianapolis - Congresswoman Julia Carson of Indianapolis died Saturday morning following a battle with lung cancer. She was 69 years old.

Carson will lie in repose at the Statehouse Friday from 10 am until 10 pm, and her funeral will be Saturday morning at Eastern Star Church with burial to follow at Crown Hill Cemetery.

A procession will begin at 7:30 Friday morning at Carson's home at 25th and Park Avenue. It will proceed south on Park to 22nd Street, west on 22nd Street to Capitol and south to the statehouse where the six-term representative will lie in repose. (See a map of the procession.)

Friday procession and viewing schedule (times are approximate):

7:15am   Military caisson and three cars will be at 2530 N. Park.

7:30am   Processional departs, proceeding south on Park to 22nd St, then west to Capitol Ave., then south to the Indiana Statehouse.

9:30am   Procession expected to arrive at the Statehouse.  Congresswoman Carson will be met there by honor guards. Her casket will be placed in the rotunda for viewing,                     entering the Statehouse from the Ohio Street parking lot on the north side of the Statehouse.

10am  Official Program: 

Prayer by Dr. Jonathan Bailey
Remarks by Governor Mitch Daniels
Remarks by Andre Carson, grandson

10:15am  Public viewing

6:00 to 8:00pm  Program: Celebration of Life

8:00 to 10:00pm Viewing resumes

About Julia Carson

Carson suffered from a number of health problems throughout her tenure as Indiana's seventh district Congressional representative, including heart problems, asthma, high blood pressure, diabetes, and most recently, a leg infection that caused her to take time off from Washington beginning in September. It was during her treatment for the leg infection that the lung cancer was discovered, and when Carson made the announcement November 26th, she said the disease had returned "with a terminal vengeance."

The community rallied around Carson and her family following that announcement, with a vigil outside her home.

Share your pictures of Congresswoman Carson here. (Be sure to choose the "Julia Carson" category when submitting your photo.) You can also leave a comment below. Read WTHR political reporter Kevin Rader's comments here.

Indiana and national leaders react

President George W. Bush:

"Laura and I are saddened by the death of Representative Julia Carson. Throughout her decade of service in the U.S. House of Representatives and her nearly 20 years in the Indiana General Assembly, Representative Carson served her constituents in Indianapolis with passion and commitment. She was revered as a champion for building strong and safe communities, working to end homelessness, improving financial literacy for all Americans, and helping her constituents achieve and maintain the dream of home ownership. Julia was a dedicated and admired public servant who will be missed by her many friends and colleagues both at home in Indiana and in our Nation's capital. Our thoughts and prayers are with her family and friends."

Governor Mitch Daniels:

"We've lost a true original. Julia Carson was honest, and brave, and a lioness in causes she believed in. But she was also pure of heart, and hers was the heart of a servant. There was determination, and resolve, and genuine conviction in Julia, but never meanness.

And she was such fun.  It was rare to leave her presence without a smile.  And after the sadness fades a bit, we'll still have that. I know I'll think of her often, and always with a smile."

Listen to the governor's statement.

Lt. Gov. Becky Skillman

"Julia Carson gave tirelessly of herself during her time of public service. Her legacy as an advocate for the people of Indianapolis will always be remembered. It's not often you find elected officials who demand such loyalty and respect from colleagues as she did. Julia is a source of inspiration for us all and her death has left a void in the hearts of many Hoosiers."

Sen. Evan Bayh (D-IN):

"Julia Carson overcame much and accomplished much, and devoted her life to helping other people do the same. She was elected to important public offices, but never forgot who she was, where she came from or who she was there to serve. She had a great sense of humor and a great sense of style, both of which are all too often lacking in public life. She has left a great legacy and I will miss her," said Sen. Evan Bayh (D) in a statement.

Sen. Richard Lugar (R-IN):

"Char and I extend our thoughts and prayers to Julia Carson's family as they remember her remarkable life.

Eight years ago we worked together on successful legislation to expand access to the then underused and not well known Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP). Cong. Carson's comments at the time exemplified her typical compassion for the most disadvantaged and vulnerable of our community:

'Money alone will not solve America's health care challenges. We must maximize our existing resources by being more creative and aggressive in our outreach efforts and making it easier for families to tap into these benefits. We all know that children who do not get routine, preventative health care will not reach their full potential. We simply cannot afford to put our children at that disadvantage.'

Her advocacy will be deeply missed."

Former Indiana Governor Joe Kernan:

"Although saddened, today is a day to celebrate the life of Julia Carson. She spoke for those whose voices would never have been heard, was a champion for those who had no other, and a warrior for veterans still fighting their own battles. Never bashful, always with purpose, and a wonderful sense of humor, Maggie and I miss her already."

Indiana Democratic Party:

"There are no words eloquent or beautiful enough to describe Julia Carson and her legacy of service to this state and community. Julia fought for those with no voice. She fought for those who had lost hope in the system. She fought for and never lost sight of what she believed in. On this day, we remember her warm smile, her quick wit and her love of life, and we pay tribute to a woman who has become a political legend," said Indiana Democratic Party Chair Dan Parker.

Indiana Republican Party:

"I am deeply saddened by the passing of Congresswoman Julia Carson. She was an example for all of us: a true Horatio Alger story. From the simplest of beginnings, she became a legendary figure in Indiana politics. The deep love she held for her constituents and her advocacy on their behalf, particularly the least fortunate among us, will be her lasting legacy for the people of Indianapolis," said Indiana Republican Party Chairman Murray Clark.

Rep. Dan Burton (R-IN05):

"I was deeply saddened when I heard that Congresswoman Carson passed away this morning. Julia was a tireless fighter for those things she believed in. She was loved by her constituents and respected by her colleagues. I want to extend my prayers and deepest sympathies to her family during this difficult time," said Rep. Dan Burton (R-IN05).

Rep. Brad Ellsworth (D-IN08):

"Julia Carson will be remembered as a political trailblazer, tireless advocate, and dedicated public servant to the people of Indiana. She leaves behind a legacy of standing up for those most vulnerable among us. But most of all, Julia accomplished what we should all strive to: she left the world a better place than when she found it. She will be deeply missed," said Rep. Brad Ellsworth (D-IN08).

Statement from Rep. Baron Hill (D-IN09):

"Indiana lost one of its finest today. I am deeply saddened to hear of Julia Carson's passing and my thoughts and prayers are with her family during this difficult time. I have known Julia for more than 20 years, and am a better person for it. She was a dear friend and her spirit will unarguably live on not only in the halls of Congress, but in the neighborhoods of Indianapolis where she touched the lives of so many. She had an enormous presence in Indianapolis and was always striving to help those in need.

Julia embodied the true meaning of a 'liberal' - a woman who was always fighting for those without a voice. She championed civil rights and walked alongside Martin Luther King, Jr. fighting for equality. She was to me, and so many others, a true hero. Julia was not only proud to be a Member of Congress and represent the fine people of Indianapolis, but she was constantly amazed at how far she had come. As many know, Julia had a difficult upbringing but only used those experiences to strengthen and shape her political views. Julia constantly reminded us all how fortunate we are to be Members of Congress.

I will miss Julia very much. But, her spirit will live on for decades to come. She was a truly faithful person and took much comfort in that. I am so honored to have known Julia for so many years and to have worked so closely with her. She leaves behind a legacy of charity, service and an unwavering commitment to helping others."

Former First Lady Judy O'Bannon:

"Julia Carson was a remarkable woman. Frank worked with her for many years and always appreciated the skill and passion she brought to public service.

She was fearless and never shied away from tackling problems head on, both in elected office and in her personal life. Often, she brought many of us to see the reality of what was going on in our world, and inspired us to join with her in taking action.

We Hoosiers have lost a good friend, and Indiana won't be the same without her."

Statement from Reverend Thomas L. Brown, Sr. Pastor, Ebenezer M.B. Church:

"Congresswoman Julia Carson lived her life in the strong traditions of many of the Eastside African-American women in Indianapolis. Some are not necessarily high academic college achievers but they have good common sense and wonderful hearts for service.

Julia practiced citizenship education. She was not a politician.  She was a stateswoman.  That's why it was so hard for people to beat her.  You can beat a politician.   From the small neighborhood, to the community, to the city, to the state and this nation-she was a STATESWOMAN-a person who has character, integrity, dignity and moral understanding. 

Julia has overcome a physical struggle (of cancer) and she is reaping the benefits of a spiritual reward due to her strong belief in a universal God."

Jim Schellinger:

"Laura and I join Hoosiers across our state as we mourn the loss of Congresswoman Julia Carson. Her death comes as a great loss to all of us. However, we will always remember her strength of spirit and love for helping others - qualities she inspired in everyone who knew her. She led a life of service which motivated each of us to reach higher, and our state will always honor her memory by building upon her legacy for generations to come. Our thoughts and prayers are with Congresswoman Carson's family during this time as we all grieve this loss," said Jim Schellinger, Democratic candidate for Indiana governor. 

Jill Long Thompson:

"It is with great sadness that Don and I offer our most sincere condolences to Congresswoman Julia Carson's family, friends, and all Hoosiers upon her passing. Julia Carson exemplified so much of what our country represents. She rose from humble origins to become a national figure dedicated to the betterment of all Hoosiers. Yet, Julia never forgot the individuals who need our support the most. We will all miss her unique personality and moral compass. Most of all, we will miss her," said Jill Long Thompson, Democratic candidate for Indiana governor.

Indianapolis Mayor Bart Peterson:

"Julia Carson was a true friend, and Amy and I will miss her more than we can express in words. She was wise in matters of government and politics, but even more so about life. She understood human nature better than anyone I have known. And yet, in spite of all the failings inherent in the human condition, she loved people.

Julia had a soft and gentle heart, but brought a steely resolve to her work. She had no doubts when it came to right and wrong, and she had no tolerance for that which she judged as wrong. And yet she had a broad capacity for forgiveness.

I am amazed by Julia Carson, by her extraordinary achievements, by her character, and by the life she lived. I am so proud that her name will forever be associated with the great city of Indianapolis."

Indianapolis Mayor-Elect Greg Ballard

"The citizens of Indianapolis have lost a true friend with the passing of Congresswoman Julia Carson, and I extend my deepest and most heartfelt sympathies to her family, friends and supporters. Congresswoman Carson made sure her voice was heard even when others' were silenced. May God grant her everlasting peace," said Indianapolis Mayor-Elect Greg Ballard (R).

Marion County Democratic Party Chairman Michael O'Connor:

"I was deeply saddened to learn this morning about the passing of Congresswoman Julia Carson. The people of our city, our state and our country have lost a truly wonderful friend and dedicated public servant. While I share in our community's sense of mourning, I hope that everyone who knew and loved Congresswoman Carson will take some time today to celebrate and rejoice in the extraordinary life that she led.

Congresswoman Carson leaves us with a legacy of compassion and caring that will endure for generations to come. We have lost of giant.

Our thoughts and prayers go out to Congresswoman Carson's family, her friends and to all of those whose lives she touched in her private and public life. Congresswoman Carson was - and will remain -- an inspiration to all of us who had the honor and privilege of knowing her."

Marion County Sheriff Frank Anderson:

"Julia Carson was a like a sister to me. Julia's life was a true American success story. The Congresswoman overcame countless obstacles in her determined effort to help people - children, working women and men, and veterans - Julia's people. Though the Congresswoman shared the stage with National leaders, she was "just Julia" to the people of the Seventh Congressional District. Helping others, what true Public Servants do, is Julia's everlasting legacy. As we celebrate faith and family this Holiday Season, let us remember and honor this remarkable woman. I thank God that He blessed us with Julia Carson; now I ask Him to bless her. May Julia Carson rest in peace."

Representative Jeff Espich:

"I have shared with U.S. Rep. Julia Carson the honor of being a public servant for more than 30 years. We each began as freshman in the Indiana House of Representatives in 1972. Julia began her crusade for the people and ideals she represented from day one as an Indiana representative. She always fought hard and gave the people she represented a voice in state, and federal government. Rep. Carson fought hard and served all Hoosiers honorably, she will be missed."

State Representative Brian Bosma:

"I am truly saddened by the death of Rep. Julia Carson. She was a devoted public servant who spent her entire life in the work of helping others. Her career, to which she dedicated herself so fully, was based on the principle of helping others and improving their lives.

"It was my sincere privilege to work with her in the Legislature, as my father did when they served together in the Indiana Senate. Every time we met, she remembered fondly the opportunities we shared to collaborate on issues addressing the disabled and other underserved Hoosiers. I am proud to have called her a friend.

"Her family and friends are in our thoughts and prayers at this time of their deep loss. Our state and our nation are fortunate to have people such as Julia Carson, who care enough to get involved and serve the public."

DNC Chairman Howard Dean:

"With the passing of Congresswoman Julia Carson, the people of Indiana and indeed all Americans have lost a great public servant and a tireless champion of freedom and fairness for all. As we mourn her passing, let's pause to remember her dignity, her courage, and the conviction she brought to Washington. Today, I join countless Americans across the country in offering my thoughts and prayers to Congresswoman Carson's family and friends in these difficult days"

Senator John Edwards (D-North Carolina):

"Elizabeth and I are saddened by the news that Congresswoman Julia Carson has passed away. Our thoughts and prayers are with her family during this difficult time. Throughout her life, Congresswoman Carson led with courage and conviction. As the first African American and the first woman to represent Indianapolis in Congress, Congresswoman Carson broke down barriers for future generations of Americans. Elizabeth and I join the nation in expressing our gratitude for her many years of service to her community and her country."

Carson's career

Carson, who grew up in poverty and attended an all-black Indianapolis high school, became the first African-American and the first woman to represent Indianapolis in Congress when she won her first term in 1996.

Carson was born to a single mother who worked as a housekeeper. She graduated in 1955 from Crispus Attucks High School, attending the segregated school at the same time as basketball star Oscar Robertson.

She began her political career in the 1960s, when then-U.S. Rep. Andy Jacobs Jr. hired the United Auto Workers secretary to work in his office. It was Jacobs who encouraged Carson to run for the Indiana Legislature in 1972 - the first of her more than two dozen victories in local, legislative and congressional elections.

When Julia announced she was running for Congress in 1996, she had already served her community as Center Township Trustee, her state by serving in the State Legislature and her country by working for longtime Congressman Andy Jacobs. So when Jacobs decided to retire she decided it was her turn.

"I believe that I am making history not because of my race or my sex but from whence I came," Carson said then.

That was vintage Julia. She never forgot where she came from and the voters in her district rewarded the one-time cleaning lady by never forgetting her on Election Day, voting to send her back to Congress six times.

In 1996 she took center stage at the Democratic Convention in Chicago and mixed it up with the presidents, including Bill Clinton in 2000.

"She's got more moves then Larry Bird and Isaiah Thomas put together," Clinton said of her.

Clinton's Republican successor George W. Bush went so far as to plant a kiss on her cheek in 2005.

But Julia also mixed it up in the trenches with Gary Hofmeister in 1998. She walked out of a scheduled debate with Brose McVey in 2002.

Carson faced a stiff challenge from Eric Dickerson in 2006, each and every time overcoming questions about her health. She even went so far as to compare herself to Strom Thurmond.

"He lived a hundred years because he had quality health care. I have quality health care. So those of you waiting around for me to get out of Congress give it up," she said.

In Washington she introduced legislation to authorize the congressional medal of honor for Rosa Parks and then spoke poignantly about watching the horses carry her casket on television.

"And I was reminded of 'swing low, sweet chariot coming to carry me home,' and the horses just kept right on dancing. It's like they felt privileged to be able to Carry Rosa Parks," she said.

Andy Jacobs will always remember the call he got from his successor just before she voted against the war in Iraq.

"She said in light of the jingoism going on at the time and the panic at the time, you know and now everyone knows all that put on was false, she said that she expected to lose the next election. That is where courage comes in. The political courage," Jacobs said.

In the last year her health began to steadily deteriorate to the point where she was using a cane to get around and a wheel chair to vote in Washington.  She had hoped to return to do the people's business in the nation's capital in December when her fight with cancer was finally revealed, but years ago she seemed to sense this day was coming.

"I did my work in Marion County which was a tough job and I am tired, you know.  I want to lay me down to sleep and pray the Lord my soul to keep."

Julia Carson's Congressional Website

Powered by WorldNow