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Public Statements

On the Passing of Don Payne


Location: Washington, DC

It is with deep sorrow and sadness that we remember our friend and colleague Donald Payne who passed today.

He had colon cancer.

The full House of Representatives recognizes and honors by this resolution and by our words this extraordinary man who dedicated his entire life to public service; a man who made a significant difference in the lives of many--in his district, in our state, in the nation and in the world.

Elected in 1988 after first serving as a Newark City Councilman and Essex County Freeholder, this history teacher and coach turned politician went on to be the first African-American to ever serve in Congress from the State of New Jersey.

Don fought tenaciously to combat the HIV/AIDS pandemic and to mitigate the loss of life and morbidity from tuberculosis and malaria on the subcontinent of Africa.

He coauthored the Sudan Peace Act and worked tirelessly to end the genocide in both South Sudan and Darfur.

I know firsthand how much he truly cared and how hard he worked for peace and reconciliation in war-ravaged nations. I served as Ranking Member of the Africa Subcommittee when he chaired, and more recently until his passing, he served as mine.

A senior member of the Committee on Education and Workforce, Don was a leading education advocate and fought to make college more accessible and affordable. It was his legislation that designated July 2 as National Literacy Day.

Don Payne served in many leadership positions including a stint as Chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation and previously served as the Chair of the Congressional Black Caucus as well as National Chairman of the YMCA.

Predeceased by his wife Hazel, Don is the father of three, grandfather of four and great grandfather of one.

Don Payne will be missed.

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