Rep. Julia Carson

INDIANAPOLIS (FinalCall.com) – Rep. Julia Carson, the first Black and first woman to represent Indianapolis in Congress, died Dec. 15, a family spokeswoman said. She was 69.

Rep. Carson died after a battle with lung cancer, spokeswoman Vanessa Summer said.

The lawmaker’s death came three weeks after she announced she had been diagnosed with terminal lung cancer and followed years of health troubles. She said days later that she would not run next year for a seventh term representing the district that covers most of Indianapolis.


She had not been in Washington since September, when she was hospitalized with a leg infection.

Carson was first elected to Congress in 1996. She championed children’s issues, women’s rights and efforts to reduce homelessness and was a staunch opponent of the war in Iraq.

She was a staunch opponent of the war in Iraq and told hundreds of people at a rally in downtown Indianapolis just weeks before the 2003 invasion that it was an act of aggression only to protect U.S. oil interests.

“Truly, it is all in the name of greed and truly in the name of war,” she said. “We should have learned by the Vietnam War, but we did not.”

Rep. Carson was born to a single mother who worked as a housekeeper. She graduated in 1955 from a segregated high school.

She began her political career in the 1960s when then-Rep. Andy Jacobs Jr. hired her to work in his office. Mr. Jacobs encouraged Ms. Carson to run for the Indiana Legislature in 1972–the first of more than two dozen victories in local, legislative and congressional elections. She ran for Congress in 1996 after Rep. Jacobs retired.

The congresswoman also had suffered in recent years from high blood pressure, asthma and diabetes. She missed dozens of House votes in 2004 because of illness and spent the weekend before the 2004 election in the hospital for what she said was a flu shot reaction–but still won re-election by 10 percentage points.

Gov. Mitch Daniels will have to call a special election to choose a replacement for the last year of Ms. Carson’s term.