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Rep. Earl Harris

State Representative Earl Harris  –  Source: Indiana General Assembly

Earl Harris, one of just twelve African-Americans in the Indiana General Assembly, who represented East Chicago since 1982, died Monday, March 23 at the age of 73. Rep. Harris represented the 2nd District in the Indiana House, which included portions of western Lake County. Said Governor Mike Pence of Rep. Earl Harris, “I was deeply saddened to learn of the passing of State Representative Earl Harris, who served the people of northwest Indiana with great distinction for more than three decades. Earl spent his career bettering the lives of Hoosiers, and, today, Indiana lost a great leader. The First Lady and I extend our sincerest condolences to his beloved family and friends during this difficult time.” House Democratic Leader Rep. Scott Pelath called Harris, “One of the finest and most visionary lawmakers I ever knew. He was a tireless advocate for the future of Northwest Indiana, and a first-rate thinker in all matters. Most of all, he was a true gentleman who was beloved without exception.” Said Rep. Pelath of Harris, “In my office, I treasure a picture of Earl and me from when I was a freshman legislator. He always tried to teach me the best lessons of leadership. A few of them stuck, and for that I am grateful for his lasting influence. East Chicago, Northwest Indiana, and the entire state are already diminished by his absence. The results of Earl’s work, which include the development of our casino industry, Lake Michigan shoreline redevelopment, and the fiscal stewardship of our state, will remain with us for generations. My heart goes out to his wife, Donna, and son, Earl, Jr., as we all mourn for a truly great man,” Pelath concluded. House Speaker Brian Bosma said of Earl Harris, “Indiana mourns the loss of a respected colleague and friend. Earl Harris was a gentleman and a respected veteran legislator that was well liked by all of his colleagues.”  Senate President David Long remarked, “Earl Harris was a fierce advocate for his constituents. He leaves a distinguished legacy here at the Statehouse, and will be greatly missed.” On Afternoons with Amos, former Rep. Bill Crawford talked about Earl Harris’ legacy and the history he made. Rep. Earl Harris was the first African-American to be Vice-Chair of the power House Ways and Means Committee, the body that writes Indiana’s two year budgets. Harris also served, when Democrats controlled the House as Speaker Pro-Tem, which means he got to preside, run House sessions, in the absence of the House Speaker. Also in the Afternoons with Amos interview, Crawford talked about Harris’ legacy, not just for his Region – Northwest Indiana – but for the entire state. And Crawford lauded Harris’ work in helping create the Indiana Black Legislative Caucus and the Indiana African-American Democratic Caucus.  Rep. Harris was retired from the East Chicago School Corporation, where he served as a fixed assets administrator. He attended Indiana University, Purdue University, and the Illinois Institute of Technology. He is a 1959 graduate of Woodstock (Tennessee) High School. Harris is survived by his devoted wife Donna and son Earl Jr. On Our NEW Media Player Hear Bill Crawford’s Afternoons with Amos Tribute to Rep. Earl Harris and an Afternoons with Amos Interview With Harris At the Legislature (at 09:45 mark). Total Length 15 Minutes ©2010/2015 WTLC/Radio One. Audio Starts After Video Ad.