Alcee Hastings was Florida’s first Black federal judge and fought a legendary battle for civil rights. In 1992, Hastings became Florida’s first Black congressman since the Civil War ended and served 15 terms in the U.S. House of Representatives.
After a battle with Stage 4 pancreatic cancer, the Democratic congressman died on Tuesday, April 6. He was 84.
“I am deeply saddened by the untimely passing of my friend and colleague, Rep. Hastings of Florida,” Texas Democratic Congressman Al Green wrote in an email to the Black Press and posted to Twitter.
“My prayers are with the Hastings family as well as Alcee’s staff, friends, and loved ones at this difficult time and in the days to come,” Congressman Green continued.
“You fought the good fight, dear brother.”
Bobby Henry, a longtime friend of Congressman Hastings and the 50-year-old Westside Gazette newspaper publisher in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, said he would miss the representative.
“Congressman Hastings has always been more than a person who held an office,” Henry stated.
“He epitomized what it meant to go through hell and come back again unscathed and to be better from it. His forte was how he made a common person feel extraordinary in the company of those who are considered to be the elite.”
Henry continued: “No matter where it was, as if we were the number one paper in the country, and he opened the door for us to be in the company of President Barack Obama and to receive an autographed copy of the President’s speech to the nation.
“He did so well to pass on to you what you are supposed to do for others, which is to make them feel great. He did that well.”
Congressman Hastings tirelessly advocated for minorities, women, and immigrants.
He served as vice-chair of the House Rules Committee in the 117th Congress.
Just one week ago, Hastings pushed President Joe Biden’s American Jobs Plan.
“The American Jobs Plan put forth by the Biden-Harris administration creates a robust avenue for progress and opportunity for all Americans,” Congressman Hastings noted.
“The plan will make a significant investment in broadband, while also investing in long-neglected areas of our infrastructure such as clean water to schools, housing, and childcare facilities to seniors’ and long-term care and veterans’ facilities.
“This plan will also create millions of good-paying, union jobs for the American people and provide support for our essential caregiving employees,” he stated.
In an interview with the Black Press ahead of last November’s elections, Hastings lashed out at former President Donald Trump’s claims that he’d done more for African Americans than anyone else. He also took issue with Republicans for trying to suppress voters.
“[Trump] said he’d done more for African Americans than anybody,” Hastings said, shaking his head. “I guess Sojourner Truth, Fanny Lou Hamer, Martin Luther King, and others must be turning over in their graves because they gave their lives so that we can have the precious rights that we have. Not it comes about that our voting rights are under attack. Sensible Americans, those who are really patriotic, make sure that everyone has the right to vote.”