Congressman Donald Payne dead at 77‎

U.S. Rep. Donald Payne (New Jersey’s first black congressman) died yesterday after a months-long battle with colon cancer. He was 77.
Payne represented the 10th Congressional District, which encompasses parts of Bayonne and Jersey City, in addition to portions of Union and Essex counties. First elected in 1988, he vowed to seek re-election this November, even after announcing he was undergoing cancer treatment.
Hudson County politicos mourned the passing of the elder statesmen of the state’s congressional delegation, calling him a tireless public servant, a champion for all people and, above all, a gentleman.
Payne’s efforts in the areas of health care, education and human rights will “succeed him for many years to come” – said U.S. Rep. Albio Sires, who represents the 13th Congressional District.
“He was a champion for all people and believed that everyone should have the chance to realize their potential to the fullest” – he said.
Payne was hospitalized at Georgetown University Hospital, but was flown back to New Jersey on Friday. After being transported to St. Barnabas Medical Center in Livingston, he died at about 2:30 a.m.
U.S. Rep. Steve Rothman, representing the Ninth District, called Payne “a giant.”
“He was a true pioneer and champion for civil and human rights here at home and around the world” – Rothman said.
Payne (who lived in Newark) is survived by three children, four grandchildren and one great-grandchild. Prior to his 1988 election to Congress, Payne was a school teacher, Prudential executive, Newark city councilman and Essex County freeholder.

Congressman Donald Payne dead at 77
Donald Payne.

Representative Donald Payne (the first African American elected to Congress from New Jersey and a tireless advocate for Africa during his 12 terms in the United States Congress) died March 6 after a brief battle with colon cancer. He was 77.
News of his death brought forth tributes from President Obama and from many congressional colleagues.
“Michelle and I were saddened to hear about the passing of Congressman Donald Payne, chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation and former chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus. By any standard, Don lived a full and meaningful life” – said the president. “In Washington, he made it his mission to fight for working families, increase the minimum wage, ensure worker safety, guarantee affordable health care and improve the educational system. He was a leader in U.S.-Africa policy, making enormous contributions towards helping restore democracy and human rights across the continent.”
House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (Democrat of Maryland) described Payne as “a trailblazer” and “a tireless campaigner for justice” in Sudan and elsewhere.
“Congressman Payne spoke out on behalf of suffering people in some of the most difficult situations around the world: from Rwanda to Sudan to the peace process in Northern Ireland” – said House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (Democrat of California). “It was a personal privilege to travel with Congressman Payne to Darfur; he was a leader in bringing attention to the genocide there. He was an expert on the political, economic and security situation throughout the continent of Africa.”
Representative Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (Republican of Florida), who chairs the House Foreign Affairs Committee and who chaired the House Subcommittee on Africa from 1995 to 1996, issued a statement extending her condolences to the Payne family, saying Payne “will be greatly missed.”
Ros-Lehtinen added – “Congressman Payne was a dedicated and effective advocate for global health and human rights during his 12 terms in the House. As chairman and ranking member of the Subcommittee on Africa, Global Health, and Human Rights, Congressman Payne worked tirelessly to combat the spread of deadly diseases such as HIV/AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis. He was also an outspoken advocate against horrific human rights abuses in Africa.”

Mr. Obama closed his press conference Tuesday with a comment on the congressman’s death.
“I want to publicly express condolences to the family of Donald Payne … a wonderful man. Did great work, both domestically and internationally. He was a friend of mine. And so my heart goes out to his family and to his colleagues.”
House Democratic Whip Steny H. Hoyer, Maryland Democrat. said Mr. Payne’s “fight for justice at home and human rights around the world will be Don’s lasting legacy.”
Mr. Payne was a trailblazer in public and private life – in the 1960′s, he was an executive with Prudential Insurance and the first black president of the National Council of YMCAs before being elected in 1988 as the first black congressman from New Jersey.
He had intended to seek re-election for a 13th term in the fall.
“Don was not only a colleague, he was a mentor and friend who I lovingly called ‘The Professor’ ” – said Rep. Gwen Moore, Wisconsin Democrat.
On Capitol Hill, Mr. Payne was known as an advocate for Africa. He was instrumental in pushing a 2004 resolution through Congress that labeled the ongoing killing in Sudan as genocide, leading to sanctions against the north African nation’s government. He later wrote the Sudan Peace Act, a plan to bring famine relief to the country.
In 2009, while on a fact-finding mission to Somalia, insurgents fired mortar rounds at his plane.
Mr. Payne helped secure millions of dollars in U.S. funding for efforts to combat malaria, tuberculosis and HIV/AIDS around the world, with most of the money going to sub-Saharan Africa.

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