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Friday, April 19, 2024

Remembering the advocacy, legacy of Senator Jean Breaux 

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Senator Jean Breaux

On Wednesday, March 20 the Indiana Democratic Party (IDP) announced the passing of Senator Jean Breaux who represented District 34 for almost 20 years. Community leaders and colleagues joined in remembering her impact on the city. 

RELATED: Breaux discusses health equity, state of legislature 

“We are incredibly saddened to hear of the passing of Senator Jean Breaux, and send our deepest condolences and prayers to former Senator Billie Breaux, and their entire family and friends,” said Chair Mike Schmul in a statement released by IDP. 

“Sen. Breaux was a force for good in the Statehouse, advancing health and educational equity, and fighting for the people of Indianapolis. She will be deeply missed, and we are eternally grateful for the impact she left on our state and party.” 

Senate Democratic Leader Greg Taylor expressed his condolences in a statement. “The loss of State Senator Jean Breaux will be profoundly felt by the countless lives she touched, and we join so many in mourning the loss of her incredible life.” 

City-County Council Minority Leader Brian Mowery was “disheartened” to learn of Breaux’s passing. “For nearly twenty years Senator Jean Breaux has served Indianapolis and the people of Senate District 34. She was a dedicated public servant and longstanding community member. Our prayers are with Senator Breaux’s family during this difficult time.” 
 

On behalf of the Indiana Black Legislative Caucus, IBLC Chair and State Representative Earl Harris (D-East Chicago) remembered Breaux’s “passion and fiery spirit.” In a statement released on the evening of March 20, the IBLC recognized Breaux’s years of public service: 

“Since her election to the Senate in 2006, Sen. Breaux has proven herself as a dedicated public servant and a fierce advocate for both her district and Hoosiers all over the state. She has worked tirelessly to support Hoosiers of all backgrounds, championing issues related to Black infant and maternal healthcare, reproductive justice, food insecurity, gun violence and rising utility costs.” 

Harris highlighted Breaux’s ongoing commitment to women’s reproductive rights, opposition to the near-total abortion ban and support of including doulas in insurance coverage plans. 

“By providing coverage for doula care, Hoosier mothers gain access to increased maternal health care, which have proven to provide better outcomes for women and their newborn children.” 

Among the causes she championed, Breaux was an advocate for equitable health care and assisting families facing financial burdens, according to Harris. “The achievements Sen. Breaux made during her time at the Statehouse cannot be understated.” 

Harris recounted some of Breaux’s accomplishments during her time in public office. “She served on the Medicaid Advisory Committee, Indiana Recycling Market Development Board, Indiana Commission on Improving the Status of Children and Health and Humans Services Committees of the National Conference of State Legislatures. Sen. Breaux was also the Senate Assistant Democratic Leader from 2012 to 2020. The National Foundation for Women Legislators (NFWL) awarded her the 2023 Elected Woman of Excellence Award.”  

“Sen. Breaux’s entire career was selflessly spent bettering the lives of her constituents, and her loss is deeply felt in our legislature, and in our caucus,” Harris said. 

City of Lawrence Mayor Deb Whitfield noted Breaux was “respected in many corners for her willingness to fight for what she believed in, for her determination to speak her mind – come hell or high water. She was treasured by many who knew her for her sharp mind and unbreakable spirit.” 

“But she was more than all of that, too,” Whitfield continued. “Jean was a mentor to me and to countless other women of color; a role model and trailblazer who kept a light on the path for those of us attempting to follow in her footsteps. She inspired me, challenged me, blessed me, cared for me. She was a once-in-a-lifetime kind of friend.” 

The Concerned Clergy of Indianapolis, Inc. stated, “Senator Breaux leaves behind an incredible legacy not only to the African American community but to the entire state of Indiana. The paths she blazed in the political world for minorities, as well as her contributions to the community, will remain unmatched and forever appreciated.”  

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