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Indiana Black Expo founder, James Cummings Jr., dies

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James C. Cummings Jr., founder of Indiana Black Expo (IBE), died April 23 following a heart attack in a Carmel nursing home. He was 90 years old.

Cummings founded IBE alongside a group of community leaders in 1971, when the first event was held at the Indiana State Fairgrounds.

Following his death, IBE released a statement: 

“It is with a heavy heart that we at Indiana Black Expo mourn the passing of Indiana Black Expo founder James C. Cummings. He was instrumental in the founding of Indiana Black Expo. He led and served in various leadership capacities with IBE, including chairman of its board of directors. Cummings also traveled the state of Indiana to help build IBE’s membership, infrastructure, and supporter base. He dedicated his life to service, activism, and shaping IBE into a statewide organization that provides year-round programs and initiatives across the state. His legacy will continue on in the work that we do to serve as a voice and vehicle for the social and economic advancement of African Americans throughout the state of Indiana. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family and loved ones at this time.”

Beyond founding IBE, Cummings also worked as a longtime reporter at the Indianapolis Recorder Newspaper. He was an active member of the Indiana Republican Party, serving in various leadership positions, and was once a candidate for Congress. Cummings founded the National Black Republican Council in the 1970s and played a large role in the election of President Ronald Reagan. Cummings was appointed by Reagan to the role of deputy assistant secretary for the U.S. Department of Housing and Development in 1985.

Cummings  is survived by five children, 11 grandchildren and 12 great-grandchildren.

He was preceded in death by his wife, Norma Cummings, who died in 2014.

Services will be announced at a later date. Donations may be sent to Indiana Black Expo, 601 N. Shortridge Road, Indianapolis, IN 46219.

James Cummings Jr. and former President George Bush

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