On Thursday, members of the Indiana Senate Democrat Caucus attended the 23rd annual Dr. King Indiana Holiday Celebration in the Statehouse rotunda. The event was sponsored by the Indiana Civil Rights Commission and the Martin Luther King Jr. Indiana Holiday Commission. Senate Democrat Leader Tim Lanane, Assistant Democrat Leader Jean D. Breaux, Senator Lonnie Randolph and Senator Greg Taylor were among those in attendance.
The event featured music from the Golden Singers of the Broad Ripple Magnet High School and a speech from Governor Mike Pence. Following the keynote address from the governor, a number of awards were presented to outstanding members of the community. Four awards were presented – the Freedom Award (Civil Rights Heritage Center), the Spirit of Justice Award (Jerry Harkness), the Passing the Torch Award (Autumn J. Riley) and the Chairman’s Award (Tamika Catchings).
Also, as a result of House Enrolled Act 1818 which passed during the 2007 legislative session, the Indiana Department of Administration and the Indiana Black Legislative Caucus commissioned the creation of two bronze busts to be installed permanently in the Statehouse. The busts were commissioned to celebrate the life and public service of two African American legislators: James Sydney Hinton and Julia M. Carson.
James Hinton first moved to Indiana in the 1850’s. Hinton eventually settled in Indianapolis and during the Civil War recruited black men to serve in the United States Colored Troops. Hinton was elected to Indiana’s House of Representatives in 1880 and was the first African American to serve in the Indiana legislature.
Julia Carson was first elected to Indiana House of Representatives in 1972 and served two terms. In 1976, she and Katie Hall became the first African American women to be elected to the Indiana Senate. After serving 14 years in the Senate, Carson was elected to U.S. House of Representatives in 1996, becoming the first African American woman to represent Indianapolis. She won five consecutive re-election campaigns and served until her death in 2007.