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Rep. Alcee Hastings, Barrier-Breaking Florida Democrat, Dies at 84

todayApril 8, 2021

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The trailblazing Florida congressman and former civil-rights activist, who was serving his 15th term, died Tuesday morning.

What We Know:

  • Hastings represented Florida’s 20th Congressional District, which covers some of Palm Beach and Broward Counties. He has served as a Democrat in the House since 1993. In 1979, Hastings became the state’s first black federal judge when President Jimmy Carter named him to Florida’s Southern U.S. District Court.
  • He began his career as a civil rights lawyer, working towards the desegregation of Broward County schools. After being named a federal judge, Hastings was indicted on charges of conspiracy to solicit a bribe in 1981. He was impeached by the House in 1988 and removed as a federal judge the following year.
  • Despite the setback, Hastings was able to win an election to the House of Representatives, where he served until his death. In a statement, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Hastings “leaves behind a powerful legacy of activism and action on behalf of Floridians and all Americans.”
  • Other Democrats echoed those sentiments: Secretary of State Anthony Blinken said Hastings “fought tirelessly for the civil rights of all Americans.” Ted Deutch, a fellow Florida Rep., mourned his passing, noting his passion for fighting injustice.

  • Hastings was diagnosed with Stage 4 pancreatic cancer in late 2018. He continued to work and make public appearances for the next two years, until recently when he was placed under hospice care.

Alcee Lamar Hastings was born on Sept. 5th, 1936, in Altamonte Springs, Florida. He received his law degree from Florida A&M in 1963 and is survived by his four children and wife, Patricia Williams.

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