Image: Rep. Julia Carson
Tom Strattman  /  AP file
Rep. Julia Carson, shown in November 2006, was first elected to Congress in 1996. She championed children's issues, women's rights and efforts to reduce homelessness and was a staunch opponent of the war in Iraq.
updated 12/15/2007 1:09:00 PM ET 2007-12-15T18:09:00

Rep. Julia Carson, the first black and first woman to represent Indianapolis in Congress, died Saturday, a family spokeswoman said. She was 69.

Carson died after a battle with lung cancer, spokeswoman Vanessa Summer said.

Carson announced last month that she was diagnosed with terminal lung cancer and that she would not run next year for a seventh term representing Indianapolis' 7th District. She had not been in Washington since September, when she was hospitalized with a leg infection.

She had said that she expected to return to Washington after recuperating, but a doctor then diagnosed that her lung cancer, which had been in remission, was back.

Carson was first elected to Congress in 1996. She championed children's issues, women's rights and efforts to reduce homelessness and was a staunch opponent of the war in Iraq.

Carson was born to a single mother who worked as a housekeeper. She graduated in 1955 from the same segregated high school school as basketball star Oscar Robertson.

She began her political career in the 1960s when then-Rep. Andy Jacobs Jr. hired her to work in his office. Jacobs encouraged Carson to run for the Indiana Legislature in 1972 — the first of more than two dozen victories in local, legislative and congressional elections. She ran for Congress in 1996 after Jacobs retired.

Funeral arrangements were pending.

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