- Associated Press - Friday, September 25, 2015

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) - Longtime Indiana state Rep. William Crawford, who became one of highest-ranking black politicians in state history, has died.

Crawford’s family says the 79-year-old Indianapolis Democrat died Friday after an illness.

Crawford spent several years as chairman of the influential House Ways and Means Committee and retired from the Indiana House in 2012 after 40 years in office.

Crawford said he was drawn to public service following the 1968 assassination of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.

His legislative accomplishments included setting aside money for affordable housing, a ban on executing mentally disabled convicts and co-authoring a law making it easier for people with criminal records to get jobs.

A statement from Crawford’s family called him “a champion for the poor and disadvantaged.”

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