Influential person: Bill Crawford

State lawmaker

Born in Indianapolis in 1936, Bill Crawford was inspired to community activism on the night of April 4, 1968, when he was part of the crowd gathered at 17th and Broadway streets when Robert F. Kennedy announced the death of Martin Luther King Jr. Encouraged to run for office by fellow activist Julia Carson, he was elected as a Democrat to the Indiana House of Representatives in 1966 and served until 2012, making him one of the longest-serving state lawmakers in U.S. history.

In 2002, he became the first African American chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, where he wrote three state budgets. His legislative accomplishments included co-authoring the Second Chance Act, which gave those with criminal records a path to rejoin society; creating the Low-Income Housing Trust Fund and the Minority Teachers Scholarship Fund; and supporting the drive to ban the execution of the mentally ill in Indiana. He died in 2015.

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