Statehouse Busts Honor Hoosier Civil Rights Leaders
January 17, 2014 — TheStatehouseFile.com
Hundreds of people gathered at the Statehouse on Thursday for a Martin Luther King Jr. celebration that included the unveiling of busts that commemorate the lives of two trailblazers.
The sculptures of former U.S. Rep. Julia Carson and former state Rep. James Sidney Hinton were created by sculptor Jon Hair and revealed during the ceremony.
The busts are part of a public art legacy project that was spearheaded by the Indiana Department of Administration and its partners with the support of the Indiana Black Legislative Caucus Artists submitted applications to design two bronze busts to celebrate two African American legislators.
“I’m honored to have two sculptures of mine here in Indy,” said Hair, who is also the sculpter of the Boilermaker statue at Purdue University.
Hinton was the first black lawmaker to serve in the Indiana General Assembly as a member of the House of Representatives in 1881. Previously, Hinton had made his living as a teacher and barber and he dedicated his life to achieving equal rights for African Americans in Indiana.
Carson was one of two black women – the first – to be elected to the Senate in 1976. She then became the first black woman to represent Indianapolis in the U.S. House.
Current U.S. Rep. Andre Carson spoke during the ceremony about his grandmother.
“Even though she was a young single parent, she was not deterred by her circumstances,” Carson said. “She was fortunate enough to meet Congressman (Andy) Jacobs…and she eventually became an elected official.”
Carson also spoke out about his grandmother’s beliefs.
“She welcomed people into our home regularly. She welcomed the homeless into our home,” he said. “She was not a bigot. You cannot claim to represent the legacy of Julia Carson if you hate Muslims, if you hate Jewish people, if you hate Christians. That was not her example.”
Wilma Moore, who attended the ceremony, said she came to honor Martin Luther King Jr. “I have so much respect for him,” she said. “I thought it was a very good service. I enjoyed looking at the legacy of Dr. King and trying to weave it into the history of the state and the unveiling of the busts of really important legislatures.”
Zeta Phi Beta member Londra Dufor said she came to honor Julia Carson because Carson was a member of the organization. She said Thursday was the sorority’s Founder’s Day, and in celebrating 94 years of sisterhood, the sisters came to watch the unveiling of Carson’s bust.
Garry Holland also attended the ceremony and said he enjoyed the ceremony.
“I came because I wanted to bear witness of the first two African Americans to be representing the Statehouse. I learned some things I did not know about James Sidney Hinton,” he said. “It was very inspiring to hear about a man who had to overcome adversity.”
Jamal Smith, commissioner of Indiana Civil Rights Commission, closed the ceremony by inviting everyone to attend a day of service on Friday that involves the community coming together to clean up the city and help those who need assistance. He said the service will begin at