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Indiana's Black community loses two prominent figures

By Everything Underground


Not only the city of Indianapolis but the state of Indiana and America as a whole lost two irreplaceable figures in 2015 with the deaths of broadcaster Amos Brown and longtime Representative Bill Powell. They were tireless activists on behalf of communities and constituencies often ignored by those in power. Each used his forum to publicize, expose and highlight issues that put them at odds with the conservative political establishment, and sometimes even with other influential Blacks. But neither was concerned with personal popularity, choosing to put the interests of those they fought for ahead of their own agendas.


Amos Brown had just recently celebrated his 40th anniversary as a broadcaster, when he passed at his family home in Chicago November 6 at the age of 64. His weekday radio show "Afternoons With Amos" was not only a widely heard program throughout Indianapolis' Black neighborhoods, but was also closely monitored by politicians, educators, and others throughout city government. Brown also had a longtime column in the Indianapolis Recorder called "Just Tellin' It."


Both on the air and in print, Brown had a no-nonsense style that could be abrasive and confrontational, but he also always allowed a host of people to state their case and discuss their condition on the air without fear of being ridiculed or attacked. He also didn't hesitate to ask tough questions of visiting dignitaries and political types. One of his last shows involved an on-air debate by the candidates for Mayor of Indianapolis.

“With the passing of Amos Brown, Indiana broadcasting lost a legend and Indianapolis lost a champion," Indiana Gov. Mike Pence said in a written statement. "Like so many of his admirers, Karen and I were deeply saddened to learn of the passing of this gifted Hoosier broadcaster and passionate advocate for his community. For more than 40 years, Amos dedicated his life’s work to amplifying the voice of the Indianapolis community. From his studio and in countless civic causes, Amos Brown worked each and every day to improve the lives of his listeners and better our capitol city."



Besides the four-decade milestone, Brown had also been inducted into the state's Broadcasting Hall of Fame. 

Brown began his on-air career in 1976, producing and hosting several TV and radio shows. In 1992, Brown created Indianapolis’ first black-oriented radio talk show, “The Noon Show.” From 1997 to 2005, he hosted “The Amos Brown Show,” Indianapolis’ only daytime TV talk show. From 1995-1997, Brown created and hosted “Six Thirty PM,” Indianapolis’ first nightly TV magazine show in a decade.


Bill Crawford also served 40 years as an Indiana State Representative. Crawford, who died in September at the age of 79, was elected 20 times to represent the 98th District in parts of Marion County. He won his first seat in 1972. Powell spent a career fighting for economic and political opportunity for others, motivated by watching Robert Kennedy informing an Indianapolis crowd that Dr. King had been assassinated back in the late '60s. That inspired a young Crawford to get off the sidelines and get involved, which he'd do for the rest of his life. 

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