Monday, December 17, 2007

Carson devoted life, love to community she served

Our position: The city's history-making congressman never forgot her roots or her neediest constituents.

Any drawn-out and successful political calling asks for tons of congratulations and tons of criticism. Julia Rachel Carson earned her share of both.

She worked difficult for her constituents, often through debilitating illness. She voted her convictions. And she took blames -- for her ideological stance, her attending and her sometimes bare-knuckled campaigning.

But the importance of the first African-American and first adult female to stand for Capital Of Indiana in United States Congress cannot be summed up with conventional scorekeeping. As the community and state command word of farewell Saturday to an iconic figure in Indiana's recent history, friends and foes alike must observe her life as an passage of the American dream.

Born in poorness and racial segregation to a adolescent single mother, Julia Porter Rachel Carson rose rung by rung to powerfulness and prestigiousness via urban grass-roots politics. Along the way, she never forgot whence she came -- or, more than precisely, she never left. A failing matrimony left her to rear two children and two grandchildren as a single mother. The position she commanded was rare in an elective official; and it was sympathetic without being sentimental.

As an adjutant to Rep. Saint Andrew W. W. Jacobs Jr., her predecessor and mentor; as a longtime state legislator; and as a reform-minded Center Township Trustee, the natural politician steadily strengthened neckties to people in demand as well as people of influence. When she was elected to United States Congress in 1996, her precedences traveled to American Capital with her: the dependent poor, the workings poor, veterans, victims of discrimination, the beleaguered cardinal city. She adamantly opposed the Republic Of Iraq warfare and strongly supported veterans.

Carson was routinely praised by oppositions for giving voice to "her people," but she and her protagonists rejected that as pigeonholing. "She doesn't stand for mediocre people; she stands for justice," W. W. Jacobs said near the end of her career. "She cognizes rich people can be treated unjustly by their authorities as well."

Whether her broad policies were the best path to equality, prosperity and peace became a standing issue between the congressman and The Capital Of Indiana Star, and something of a standing gag as well. Wry, plainspoken, given to broad-brimmed hats and long cracker-barrel stories, Rachel Carson argued political relation with a smiling that presaged a last laugh.

And the last laughter was hers, six modern times over, in a territory that was Democratic by a modest bulk and achromatic by a decided majority. Pre-election polls often showed close races that her vaunted "ground troops" turned into mobs when the ballots were cast. Ugliness on both sides frequently erupted in her campaigns, but "We Love Julia" shone through as a signature motto from her supporters.

While her political doctrine and component attending won the Black Maria of the 7th District majority, her absenteeism became a concern across the board. While Rachel Carson routinely dismissed studies and rumours of sick wellness throughout her congressional career, that calling began with double-bypass bosom surgery, forcing her to lose her swearing-in ceremonial in 1997. Characteristically, she described herself as the lucky receiver of the world's best wellness attention -- and decried the fact that billions were denied it. That ideal of inclusion will stomach as her legacy.

In 2000, Julia Rachel Carson stood at the pinnacle of personal attainment when President Bill Bill Clinton joined her in presence of a cheering crowd at the Hoosier State State Fairgrounds, praising her celebrated persuasive powers.

"I really am honored by this," the topic of the fundraising mass meeting said. "This gives our children some aspirations. It gives them some hope."

She added: "We have got to maintain underscoring that this is all America. It have a batch of different human faces in it, but we're all 1 country."

Speaking in the thick of an election conflict that she hoped would be one of many, she probably was not thinking about an epitaph. But she etched a perfect one.

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