'Crusader for equality:' Community remembers Congressman Alcee Hastings

Fellow lawmakers, leaders react to longtime congressman's death
US Rep. Alcee Hastings meets Little Ricky
Posted at 11:12 AM, Apr 06, 2021
and last updated 2021-04-06 15:48:25-04

U.S. Rep. Alcee Hastings, D-Fla., a longtime congressman who represented South Florida for almost three decades, has died, Palm Beach County Commissioner Mack Bernard said Tuesday morning.

Hastings, who announced in January 2019 that he was undergoing treatment for pancreatic cancer, was 84.

Florida Commissioner of Agriculture and Consumer Services called Hastings "a longtime crusader for equality" on Twitter.

Florida Congresswoman Val Demings says served his constituents as not just the dean of Florida's congressional delegation as the longest-serving member, but also as a judge and civil rights attorney.

Congresswoman Lois Frankel shared the following statement on Hastings' passing:

"It's with a heavy heart that I have learned about the passing of my colleague and friend, Alcee Hastings. I've known Alcee for many years. He was a fierce fighter for civil rights and racial justice, and a great partner in Congress when it came to serving South Florida. He will be deeply missed. My heart goes out to his family, friends and staff as we mourn his loss."

Former Congressman Patrick Murphy remembered Hastings as his "friend, a mentor, a teacher, and someone who lit up the room wherever he went."

Former Democratic gubernatorial nominee Andrew Gillum called Hastings "a true public servant."

Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis, who defeated Gillum in the 2018 election, said he was "saddened to learn of the passing" of Hastings.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., issued a statement in which she called Hastings a "cherished colleague" whose death is "a great loss for America."

"Today, our congressional community has been devastated by the passing of a cherished colleague, the dean of the Florida delegation: Congressman Alcee Hastings. Congressman Hastings was a beloved son of Florida, a respected leader in our Democratic Caucus and in the Congress. As an icon of the congressional Black caucus, he was an historic force in our nation's politics. His passing is a great loss for America.

All who knew Alcee knew him as a champion for the most vulnerable in our nation. As an attorney, civil rights activist and judge, and over his nearly 30 years in Congress, he fought tirelessly to create opportunities to lift up working families, communities of color, children and immigrants. From his position as vice chairman of the powerful Rules Committee, he was an effective force in ensuring that the voices of the American people were heard in the halls of the Congress.

As he fought for American families at home, Congressman Hastings was a respected force for human rights, economic prosperity and security abroad. This commitment was recognized by his being named chairman of the Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe (Helsinki Commission), the first Black American to hold this position. As speaker of the House, it was my honor to join Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid in recommending this appointment to President George W. Bush.

Congressman Hastings was a trusted voice in the intelligence community, and as a former vice chairman of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, was a leader on countering terrorism and protecting the American people.

Congressman Hastings leaves behind a powerful legacy of activism and action on behalf of Floridians and all Americans. His leadership and friendship will be missed by his many friends in Congress. May it be a comfort to his wife Patricia and his children, Alcee 'Jody' Jr., Chelsea and Leigh, that so many mourn their loss and are praying for them at this sad time."

Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., also issued a statement in which he called Hastings one of Florida's "most preeminent and passionate public servants."

"With Alcee Hastings's passing, Florida has lost one of its most preeminent and passionate public servants. As a congressman, Hastings was a tireless advocate for his constituents and for fighting against civil rights injustices, and the decades he spent representing our state in the House were an inspiration to all members of the Florida congressional delegation. Working alongside him on issues like Everglades restoration has been a personal highlight in my own work in the Senate. Jeanette and I mourn his passing. We unite in prayer and offer our sincere condolences to his family and loved ones."