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Bill Crawford

William A. (Bill) Crawford 1939 – 2015

NEW INFORMATION! REACTION FROM STATE & LOCAL LEADERS. JUST ADDED, AUDIO OF REACTION TO BILL CRAWFORD PASSING FROM INDY COMMUNITY & INTERVIEWS WITH REP. ANDRE CARSON AND BILL CRAWFORD’S SON DARREN!  Former Indiana State Representative William A. (Bill) Crawford has died after waging a heroic battle with a recent illness, his family announced. He was 79. With his forty years as an Indiana State Legislator, Bill Crawford built a legislative record and legacy that made him the most influential African-American elected official in Indiana’s history. In statement, Crawford’s wife Bernice said, “To the end, Bill faced death with dignity and courage. He fought the good fight in sickness as he did in health, and throughout his long career as a public servant. Bill will be remembered here in Indianapolis, throughout the entire state of Indiana and this nation as a champion for the poor and disadvantaged.

“Please be in prayer for us during this challenging time,” she said. In his career as a legislator, Bill Crawford stood up and fought for legislation that helped working men and women, children, the elderly. He fought for civil and human rights equality.  Born in Indianapolis, January 28, 1936, this Lockfield Gardens resident served in the US Navy, followed by employment at the Post Office. Crawford worked closely with legendary Indianapolis minister and activist the Rev. Andrew Brown’s efforts to fight for equality for Blacks in the city.

bill crawford bio

Bill Crawford (R) With Ethel Kennedy, Sen. Robert Kennedy’s Widow When She Visited Indy In 2008

Bill was present on that fateful night, April 4, 1968, and heard Sen. Robert Kennedy’s words at 17th and Broadway announcing the death of Dr. Martin Luther King. Being there that night and hearing those words helped shape Crawford’s career as a community activist and servant. And led to his passionate work on behalf of a permanent Kennedy/King memorial to that historic night on that historic site.

bill crawford bio

Bill Crawford With Wife Of Rev. Andrew Brown At Dedication Of Kennedy/King Memorial

Crawford was one of the cadre of young Black men and women who helped create and shape Indiana Black Expo. Serving as a longtime Board member and Board officer. Crawford got involved in public service when then State Representative (later Congresswoman) Julia Carson convinced Crawford to run for the legislature and he represented inner city and later inner and outer city Indianapolis neighborhoods from 1972-2012. During that time he left an impressive legislative legacy and body of work. When he retired, he had become the longest serving African-American state lawmaker in Indiana history. When Bill took office in 1973, he was assigned to the powerful Ways and Means Committee. In time, he rose to chair the committee, which decides how the state spends its money. In that position, he worked to ensure that state spending was just and that the underserved were not overlooked. A posture Bill Crawford took with all the legislation he authored or co-sponsored; from affordable housing to neighborhood development to criminal justice.

bill crawford bio

Bill Crawford In Studio With Former Black Expo President Joyce Rogers

Whether it was Concerned Clergy, Black Expo, Circle City Classic, Kennedy/King Park Bill Crawford was intimately involved in every major initiative and effort in Indianapolis’ Black community over a forty-five year period. Crawford also strongly supported major Indianapolis initiatives from the Hoosier/RCA Dome, Circle Centre Mall, IUPUI growth. But he insisted that those projects include strong goals and efforts to include minority-and omen businesses working on those projects. Crawford was passionate defender of school integration while also insisting on improving the quality of education and funding for public schools and insuring cultural and racial diversity in Indianapolis schools and much more.

bill crawford bio

Crawford (R) With Other Community Leaders Speaking Out On Issue Of Expungement Of Criminal Histories

Throughout his public service, Bill Crawford retained his common touch, devoted to and serving the people in the streets. While being able to negotiate to find common ground with the people in the suites. All to benefit the community he served and loved.

Bill Crawford was the lead plaintiff in the lawsuit against the nation’s first Voter ID law, here in Indiana, saying the law would was a thinly veiled attempt to disenfranchise poor, and minority and Democratic voters. The lawsuit went all the way to the US Supreme Court, which ruled against Crawford and other plaintiffs. But the issues that Crawford brought up in that initial lawsuit against voter ID have been used by subsequent courts to limit or curb the use of Voter ID laws in other states.

Despite one who dropped out of high school to join the Navy, education was a central part of Bill Crawford’s life. Crawford worked for Ivy Tech Community College for nearly 25 years, retiring in 2011 as Manager of Outreach Programs. His career there helped shape and mold Ivy Tech into a true statewide community college system. Bill Crawford’s deep devotion to diversity and to opening the doors of education to non-traditional students has helped Ivy Tech have the largest enrollment of African-Americans and other minorities of any public university or college in Indiana. Funeral arrangements are pending. In addition to prayers, the family asks for respect of its privacy at this challenging time.  The Afternoons with Amos PODCAST For Friday, September 25, 2015 Was Nearly All Devoted To Initial Community Reaction To Bill Crawford’s Death. (Interview With Rep. Andre Carson At 20:24 Mark On PODCAST Media Player. Interview With Bill Crawford’s Son Darren At 34:45 Mark On Media Player).

TRIBUTES FROM INDIANA’S POLITICAL LEADERS:  SEN JOE DONNELLY:  “Chairman Bill Crawford was a trailblazer and champion for Hoosiers during his four decades of public service. Bill was a great leader, and I always thought of him as a friend and a mentor. Bill distinguished himself as a thought leader on both civil and human rights. He also was a strong advocate for the working class and our children. He dedicated his life to making our state and Indianapolis a stronger, more welcoming place, and he will be missed. My thoughts and prayers are with his family.”   GOV. MIKE PENCE: “Bill Crawford served as a member of the Indiana General Assembly with distinction. For four decades, his leadership brought about extraordinary accomplishments such as the Second Chance Act, the Minority Teacher’s Scholarship Fund and so many others. “A veteran of the United States Navy and the first African American lawmaker to serve as chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, Bill Crawford was a true public servant dedicated to improving the lives of Hoosiers. I recently had the privilege of recognizing the Chairman’s contributions to our communities by awarding him the Reverend Charles Williams Community Service Award. As we mourn the passing of this beloved Hoosier, let us keep his wife Bernice and the entire Crawford family in our thoughts and prayers.” LT. GOV. SUE ELLSPERMANN:  “Representative Bill Crawford was a great legislator and a gentle man. It was an honor to serve with him in the Indiana House. He leaves a strong legacy and role model for public service and will be remembered as one of Indiana’s real difference makers. My prayers are with his family as they mourn this great loss.”   HOUSE SPEAKER BRIAN BOSMA: “Bill Crawford was a deeply respected colleague in the Indiana House of Representatives. A consummate gentleman and constant advocate for Central Indiana, I had the honor to serve alongside Bill for many years. As a former Chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee and the longest-serving African-American legislator in our state’s history, Bill leaves behind a sterling legacy of selfless public service. He will be truly missed.” HOUSE DEMOCRATIC LEADER REP. DAVID PELATH: “He was a giant among men. He was a legend, even as he lived. No one in the history of Indiana was a stronger voice for the voiceless. The echoes are everlasting. I will never forget these things. Most of all, I will remember his winning smile, which could fill and illuminate an entire room.” SENATE PRESIDENT DAVID LONG: “I had the honor of working with Bill Crawford for a number of years, particularly during his service as Chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee. Bill was an honorable man, and a true fighter for his constituents and the issues he passionately believed in. We will all miss him.” SENATE DEMOCRATIC LEADER SEN. TIM LANANE:  “I was extremely saddened to hear the news of the passing of my friend and colleague Bill Crawford. His voice and his leadership in the legislature not only helped to improve the lives of Hoosiers in his district, but Hoosiers all around the state. Indiana has lost a prolific public servant today, and his legacy will not soon be forgotten.”  MAYOR GREG BALLARD: “Indianapolis lost a cherished community leader today. For decades, Bill Crawford championed civic causes and tirelessly advocated on behalf of the people and neighborhoods that make our city great. There is no denying how much he cared for his constituents and Indianapolis. My thoughts and prayers are with his family today.”  CITY-COUNTY COUNCIL PRESIDENT MAGGIE LEWIS: “Today, the city of Indianapolis, the State of Indiana and the nation said goodbye to a gentle man whose courage and vision has forever changed our lives. Our dear Representative Bill Crawford has fought his last fight and blazed his last trail. While our hearts are heavy, we can all be assured he is resting at peace. Vice President John Barth, Majority Leader Monroe Gray, and I along with our entire caucus extends our deepest sympathy to the family of Representative Crawford and we thank you for sharing your loved one with us over the years. ” MAYOR CANDIDATE JOE HOGSETT: “Today, I lost a friend. And our community lost a tireless advocate for those less fortunate, a fearless champion of civil rights, and a visionary statesman on behalf of our city and state. On April 4, 1968, Senator Robert F. Kennedy announced the death of Dr. Martin Luther King to shocked and heartbroken Indianapolis residents. A young Bill Crawford stood in the crowd that night, and spent the next fifty years carrying forward the torch of equality and justice throughout the streets and neighborhoods of this city. I can think of no better way to honor my friend than by lifting up that torch once again, so that the legacy of his life’s work will continue to light the way for the next generation of young leaders.” INDIANA DEMOCRATIC PARTY: “On behalf of the Indiana Democratic Party, we all mourn the loss of Chairman Bill Crawford. Simply put, he was an icon. In his 40 years of service to Hoosiers in the Indiana House of Representatives, Rep. Crawford fought hard for fiscal responsibility, equal rights and to give everyone a fair chance in our state. He also embodied service to his community and stood as an example of leadership to all who knew him. Indiana Democrats are saddened by the loss of one of our champions, and we will miss him.”   MARION COUNTY DEMOCRAT CHAIR JOEL MILLER: When I first started as an intern in the Indiana House., Bil Crawford was a giant. His legislative and budget acumen was second to none, but more than that, he was a kind man. As continued in politics, I was honored to call Bill my friend and mentor. Indianapolis would not be the place it is without Bill Crawford. He played a critical role in transformative downtown projects. He always fought passionately for his constituents and all those who were too often left unheard in the halls of power. I know I will miss him, and Indianapolis and Indiana have lost a great champion”. TRIBUTES FROM INDIANA’S BLACK LEGISLATORS: IBLC CHAIR SEN. LONNIE RANDOLPH: “If I had but one caption for State Representative William ‘Bill’ Crawford, it would be ‘Seize the Moment.’ It is difficult to develop just one quote for State Representative William ‘Bill’ Crawford. One of his favorites was, ‘If you ain’t at the table, you are probably on the menu.’ State Representative Crawford had the ability to seize the moment by saying ability is of little account without opportunity. Bill once said, ‘A wise man knows everything, but a shrewd man knows everybody.’ Bill is now absent from the body, but he will always be with us in spirit for his soul will never die. Bill has seized the moment.” REP. JOHN BARTLETT: “If ever Indiana produced a great statesman, that person was Bill Crawford. I was privileged to have had the chance to work with him.” SEN. JEAN BREAUX: “Rep. Crawford was a General who fought for and who led and trained so many others like me on how to fight the battles for the common, all too often marginalized, man. Rep. Crawford was so powerful because he did what he did not for personal gain or glory, but because he understood that the least of thee needed an advocate to speak for and represent them. Representative Crawford spoke forcibly with knowledge, intelligence and an organic understanding of the man in the streets. He was a worthy advocate whose efforts really did make the lives of all Hoosiers, but most especially those he fought to represent much, much better. Rep. Crawford loved being an agent for change, because he knew that to make a difference you can’t be afraid to stir the pot or speak up and speak out with informed knowledge, and take a stand no matter the obstacles or opposition. His brand of leadership is a model for all legislators who want to ensure that there are soldiers still fighting the battles. Sadly, Bill’s brand of leadership will be sorely missed. His legacy will be to encourage all those who follow to seek the honored title of General.” REP. CHARLIE BROWN: “Without a doubt, Bill Crawford was the strongest fighter for the needs and concerns of African-Americans across the state. He will be sorely missed.“ REP DONNA HARRIS: “I give my condolences to his family because six months ago, I went through the same thing. We have lost a mentor, a great friend, and a great colleague. He is going to be missed.” REP. GREG PORTER: “Bill Crawford was an incredible man, and the most influential African-American public servant leader and mentor in our state’s history. He was a trailblazer and drum major for justice. His journey throughout life as an advocate, bridge-builder and peacemaker was second to no one. From my perspective, he was anointed and well-equipped to bring light on the disparities so many faced on issues like education, health, and housing. Bill taught us so much through example, and the things he said…’knowledge is power,’ ‘let the people know the facts and they shall be free,’ and ‘if you’re not at the table, you’re on the menu’…helped show us that there was a way to accomplish much for the greater good of all. He was an educator, motivator and philosopher, and a humble, selfless, self-taught man, and I shall miss him dearly.” REP. CHERRISH PRYOR: “I have been blessed to know and work for Rep. Crawford. Everyone in the State of Indiana has benefited from his work and don’t know it, regardless of race, age gender etc. Even after he retired, he stayed active and talked with me regularly. He always gave me advice and looked out for me because he had my best interest at heart. But his reach was far beyond the boundaries of Indiana. He was well-respected and known by people all over this country. Whenever I was out of town and talked about Indiana, people asked me about Rep. Crawford. He was more than a statesmen, he was a giant with a heart for the people. We’ve lost a giant voice for the people and I have a big void in my heart. I will miss him immensely.” SEN. EARLINE ROGERS: “Bill Crawford leaves a legacy of concern for the needy, a legacy of respect for racial dignity, and was the guiding light for the Indiana Black Legislative Caucus. He was there when I first arrived and he assisted me in my legislative efforts. For that, I thank him.” REP. ROBIN SHACKLEFORD: “Bill Crawford was my cherished mentor and teacher. Every time he spoke, I learned something new. He was always there when I needed him, returning every call, providing guidance, and leading the way. He taught me to listen and learn everything I could, and stand up for the community, even in the midst of challenges. He also had the forethought to groom young men and women into leaders of tomorrow. Because of who he was, I am today and I will forever be in his gratitude.” REP. VERNON SMITH: “Bill Crawford’s contribution to the community and the state are immeasurable. His knowledge base, technical skills, and interpersonal skills were amazing. He was a servant leader and role model for me. He was the conscience of the Legislature and a champion of people and human rights to a degree of none other. He was a visionary and he was committed to his vision for God’s people. He will be missed.” REP. VANESSA SUMMERS: “When I think about Representative Crawford, I always remember the sayings he had that seemed to capture the truth of the matter. One of my favorites was always, ‘If you’re not at the table, then you’re on the menu.” SEN. GREG TAYLOR: “Bill was a wise and thoughtful mentor for young legislators, who fought and continue to fight even after his retirement for those who were less fortunate. That was his legacy. We can honor his memory by continuing to fight.” FORMER SEN. BILLIE BREAUX: “Representative Crawford served in the Legislature many years before I was elected to the Indiana Senate. I served with him from 1990 to 2006, then he continued his magnificent service. He was more than a Representative. He was a Statesman. He represented not just the needs and cares of his district but people all over Indianapolis and the state who were disenfranchised. He believed and acted on the philosophy that if you were not at the table you were on the menu. He sat at the table and was always armed with justice, facts and the hearts and soul of the people he represented.” STATEMENTS OF CIVIC LEADERS: IVY TECH PRESIDENT THOMAS SYNDER: “Bill Crawford was a tremendous asset not only to the state of Indiana, but to Ivy Tech Community College where he led a legacy of excellence for 25 years. He personified the mission and vision of Ivy Tech throughout his career and advocated on behalf of issues important to students and education in Indiana. He will be missed by the entire Ivy Tech family.”    INDIANA BLACK EXPO: Our hearts and prayers are with the family of former Representative Bill Crawford. Our city has lost a great trailblazer today and he will be missed. As a legislator, one of the earliest organizers of Indiana Black Expo, and IBE’s former president and board chairman, Bill displayed wholehearted service to the Indianapolis community for more than 40 years. He was instrumental in making IBE the voice and platform for social, academic, and economic advancement of African Americans and those without a voice. Bill’s legendary stamp will forever remain on IBE, Indianapolis, the state of Indiana, the nation and the world. It is fitting that as we celebrate 32 years of Circle City Classic’s legacy, we reflect on Bill’s commitment to its mission – highlighting the excellence of historically black colleges and providing an opportunity for our youth to attend a post-secondary institution. It was under Bill’s leadership that the first IBE scholarships were awarded in 1976. And because of his extraordinary leadership and passion for our community, more than $3.4 million have been awarded to Indiana students to attend post-secondary education institutions since then. INDIANAPOLIS URBAN LEAGUE CEO TONY MASON: “Indianapolis and the State of Indiana lost a stalwart leader and man whose vision and commitment to our community was unprecedented. Representative Bill Crawford embodied the principles of social justice and service to all mankind throughout his entire life. He was a true friend of the Indianapolis Urban League and utilized his influence to craft legislation that will forever benefit the individuals and families we serve. His gentle spirit and pursuit for equality paved the way for many African Americans, and he is one of the most respected public servants of our time. I personally had the pleasure and blessing of working with Representative Crawford throughout my entire career, and I know that he influenced me and so many others who lead and serve with organizations like ours to do so with an unwavering commitment and compassion towards those who have the least. The Indianapolis Urban League Board of Directors and staff extends our deepest sympathy to his family and our prayers and thoughts are with them during this difficult time.” NAWBO: “The Indianapolis Chapter of the National Association of Women Business Owners (NAWBO) is saddened to learn of the passing of (former) Indiana State Representative Bill Crawford. He was a true friend of the organization and a dedicated advocate for minority and women business owners. His commitment to ensure MWBEs were included in contracting and procurement opportunities is most evident in the existing supplier diversity participation goals that are now part of the State of Indiana and City of Indianapolis procurement process. Because of his efforts, NAWBO members are the beneficiaries of his legacy. His focus on driving minority and women businesses forward will be greatly missed.” KENNEDY/KING MEMORIAL INITIATIVE: “the Kennedy King Memorial Initiative, and its Board, friends, and supporters, are deeply saddened by the passing of our leader and founder, William Crawford. We know our grief is shared by people all over the City of Indianapolis and the State of Indiana. Bill’s life is a remarkable record of building positive communities, and creating great futures. No matter the burden, he never failed to rise. His life inspires all of us to continue his important work and keep hold of his vision. We ask everyone to pray for him and his family during this difficult time – and to continue his dreams and his memory”.  Audio Is Afternoons with Amos PODCAST For Friday, September 25, 2015. Runs 93 Minutes. PODCAST AUDIO Starts After Brief Video Ad.