Florida Representative Alcee Hastings Dead At 84 Years Old

FLORIDA (April 6, 2021)—-Congressman Alcee Hastings, whose life was marked by perseverance, calamity and a comeback, has died. He was 84.  Congressman  Hastings was born on Sept. 5, 1936, in Altamonte Springs. His parents, Julius C. and Mildred L. Hastings, were domestic workers.

Hastings received a bachelor’s degree in 1958 from Fisk University in Nashville, Tenn., one of the historically Black colleges and universities (HBCU) whose students played a major role in the civil rights movement of the mid-20th Century.

He attended law school at Howard University, in Washington, D.C., another preeminent HBCU. He received his law degree from Florida A&M, also an HBCU, in 1963.

Hastings crusaded against racial injustice as a civil rights lawyer, became a federal judge who was impeached and removed from office, and went on to win 15 congressional elections, becoming Florida’s senior member of Congress.

He died Tuesday morning, a longtime friend said. His death was confirmed in a statement from his family.

In late 2018, Hastings was diagnosed with Stage 4 pancreatic cancer. For much of the ensuing two years, he continued public appearances between medical treatments, but more recently he hadn’t been in public. In recent days, he had been in hospice care. “Alcee was a fighter, and he fought this terrible disease longer than most. He faced it fearlessly, and at times even made fun of it,” said Broward County Commissioner Dale Holness.

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In late 2018, Hastings was diagnosed with Stage 4 pancreatic cancer. For much of the ensuing two years, he continued public appearances between medical treatments, but more recently he hadn’t been in public. In recent days, he had been in hospice care. “Alcee was a fighter, and he fought this terrible disease longer than most. He faced it fearlessly, and at times even made fun of it,” said Broward County Commissioner Dale Holness.

Congressman Ted Deutch, another South Florida Democrat, described Hastings at a 2019 luncheon in his colleague’s honor as someone “who can stand up to a bully, who can represent people whose voices need to be heard, who’s unafraid to say what needs to be said.”

Howard Finkelstein, the retired four-term Broward County public defender, lauded Hastings as “one of the greatest men who has ever lived in Broward County.”

President Joe Biden said he admired Hastings’ “singular sense of humor, and for always speaking the truth bluntly and without reservation.”

“Alcee was outspoken because he was passionate about helping our nation live up to its full promise for all Americans,” the president said in a statement. “Across his long career of public service, Alcee always stood up to fight for equality, and always showed up for the working people he represented. And even in his final battle with cancer, he simply never gave up.”

Three years and two weeks after the Senate convicted him, Hastings was elected to the House of Representatives, becoming one of three Black Floridians who went to Congress that year — the first time Florida had sent a Black representative to Washington since 1877, when the post-Civil War era of Reconstruction ended.

He was re-elected 14 times, making him dean of the Florida delegation. When he faced opponents from Democrats in primaries or Republicans in general elections, he typically won by margins of at least 3-to-1. Sometimes no one even came forward to run against him.

Hastings represented most of the African American and Caribbean American communities in Broward and Palm Beach counties, though the boundaries and district numbers changed over the decades, sometimes extending to parts of Hendry, Martin and St. Lucie counties.

In a statement Tuesday, Pelosi called Hastings “a trusted voice in the intelligence community” and said he “leaves behind a powerful legacy of activism and action on behalf of Floridians and all Americans.”

Source: Sun Sentinel and Bee News Daily contributed to the article.

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