INDIANAPOLIS - Rep. Julia Carson, who rose from a childhood of poverty and segregation to become the first black and first woman to represent Indianapolis in Congress, died Saturday. She was 69.
Carson died of lung cancer at her home, where she had spent the last several weeks, family spokeswoman Vanessa Summers said.
Carson said last month that she would not seek election in 2008 to a seventh term.
The Democrat 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 told protesters in Indianapolis just weeks before the 2003 invasion of Iraq that it was an act of aggression only to protect U.S. oil interests.
She began her political career in the 1960s when then-Rep. Andy Jacobs Jr. hired her. 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.
Carson's highest-profile action came in 1999, when she pushed to award the Congressional Gold Medal to civil-rights leader Rosa Parks.
Gov. Mitch Daniels will have to call a special election to choose a replacement for the last year of Carson's term.