A life well lived!
The iconic civil rights lawyer and Florida’s first Black federal judge, U.S. Rep. Alcee Hastings, passed away Tuesday at 84-years-old, according to the Sun-Sentinel. Hasting, the longest-serving member of Florida’s congressional delegation, had been battling Stage 4 pancreatic cancer since 2018. He remained a champion against racial injustice throughout his life and persevered through challenges in his career as a civil rights attorney and a federal judge.
Congressman Hastings family released a statement on his passing, “He lived a life of triumph over adversity, and his brilliance and compassion was felt amongst his constituents, colleagues, the nation, and the world. He lived a full life with an indelible fighting spirit dedicated to equal justice. He believed that progress and change can only be achieved through recognizing and respecting the humanity of all mankind. He was never afraid to speak his mind and truly loved serving his constituents and his family. He will be dearly missed, but his legacy and fighting spirit will forever live on.”
He was born Alcea Lamar Hastings, in Altamonte Springs on Sept. 5, 1936. His father, Julius Hastings, was a butler, and his mother, Mildred (Merritt) Hastings, was a maid. After his parents left Florida to find work to pay for his education, he stayed with his grandmother in Jim Crow-era Florida. Hasting spent his time picking beans and tangerines while attending Crooms Academy in Sanford, Fla., which was founded for Black students and is now known as Crooms Academy of Information Technology. Hasting graduated in 1953 and then attended Fisk University, where he received his bachelor’s degree in 1958. Following his graduation, he studied at Howard University School of Law before receiving his law degree from Florida A&M University in 1963.
The congressman was an activist who was jailed six times for participating in civil rights protests. Then, six months out of law school, he filed a lawsuit against the Holiday Inn in Fort Lauderdale after being denied a room. Soon after, the state integrated hotels across Broward County, where he eventually served as a state judge before receiving his federal judgeship.
In 1993, Hastings began serving in the U.S. House of Representatives and was a member of the House Rules Committee and the Congressional Black Caucus.
The Congressional Black Caucus Chairwoman Joyce Beatty said in a statement on behalf of the CBC, “While we mourn the loss of our brother, his life and legacy will continue to be a part of our power and our message and will serve as a motivation for those who will follow in his footsteps – as leaders, fighters and advocates who represent the best of what our nation has to offer.”
She continued, “Although there are no words to ease the sadness we are now feeling, there is solace in the remembrance of having been touched by such a giant. May his memory serve as a comfort to his loved ones and those who join us in mourning his passing. Rest well our dear brother… we’ll take it from here.”
Along with being Florida’s first Black federal judge, he was one of three Black Floridians who went to Congress in 1992. This was the first time Florida had elected Black candidates to that body since Reconstruction. He served 15 terms in the House, longer than any other current member, making him dean of the delegation. He pushed against racial injustice throughout his career and spoke up for LGBTQIA rights, immigrants, women, and the elderly while also advocating for better access to healthcare and higher wages.
Across the internet, people expressed their sadness at his passing.
With great sadness, I offer my deepest condolences to the family of my Congressional Black Caucus colleague Rep. Alcee Hastings.
Rep. Hastings was a civil rights lawyer, a justice seeker and an advocate. He transitioned today but leaves behind a legacy of courage and strength.advertisement
— Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley (@RepPressley) April 6, 2021
RIP to Famu Law legend, Alcee Hastings. Member of the last graduating class of the original law school and a true pioneer.advertisement
— Dani Lyn, Esquire (@theefamuesq) April 6, 2021
Today Florida lost a committed public servant and the nation lost a passionate patriot.advertisement
We in the Congressional Black Caucus have lost a giant and I have lost a dear friend of more than 60 years.
— James E. Clyburn (@WhipClyburn) April 6, 2021
I’m will miss Congressman #AlceeHastings. Thank you for being a champion for #environmentaljustice on #CapitolHill. Thank you for your tireless work on conservation & protection of the #Everglades. Thank you for your mentorship and love for young people. Your legacy will live on. pic.twitter.com/4VrsJ5XP1n
— Mustafa Santiago Ali (@EJinAction) April 6, 2021
I am deeply saddened by the passing of Congressman Alcee Hastings.
He has been a stalwart voice for the African American community in Florida and leaves enormous shoes to fill.
I send prayers for peace & grace to all who loved him. https://t.co/TTlczK8DLAadvertisement
— Pam Keith, Esq. (@PamKeithFL) April 6, 2021
Sending my sincere condolences to the family, friends, and staff of Rep. Alcee Hastings.advertisement
He was a beloved member of the Congressional Black Caucus who fought tirelessly on behalf of his district. He will be deeply missed.
— Rep. Ilhan Omar (@Ilhan) April 6, 2021
As a young civil rights lawyer, he sued Holiday Inn in Fort Lauderdale to force them to integrate. At 29 years old in 1970, he became the first Black person to run for United States Senate in Florida. Rep. Alcee Hastings died today at 84. https://t.co/GMvMGI0lKu
— Keith Boykin (@keithboykin) April 6, 2021
The Congressional Black Caucus is heartbroken and mourns the loss of our colleague and brother Congressman Alcee Hastings, a fearless fighter for his District and a leading voice in the fight for civil and voting rights. pic.twitter.com/GvGLJXNV9p
— The Black Caucus (@TheBlackCaucus) April 6, 2021
Florida has lost a true public servant in Congressman Alcee Hastings. Aside from his rhetorical genius, I’ll miss our unfiltered conversations, his particular history of a state we both love, and his ability to inspire others. I miss you already dear friend. Rest in power ✊ pic.twitter.com/8gEDEVpyBV
— Andrew Gillum (@AndrewGillum) April 6, 2021
I’m saddened to hear of the passing of my friend and colleague Rep. Alcee Hastings. Throughout his life, he was a fierce champion for civil rights and a powerful voice in Congress. My thoughts and prayers are with his family and loved ones. https://t.co/SR3X6kV1Am
— Rep. Lauren Underwood (@RepUnderwood) April 6, 2021
He attended @HowardU, @FAMU_1887, was a member of @kapsi1911 and represented FL’s 20th Congressional District. RIP to @RepHastingsFL who died this morning at the age of 84 Member of the @TheBlackCaucus #AlceeHastings
— @tiffanydcross (@TiffanyDCross) April 6, 2021
U.S. Rep. Alcee Hastings served his constituents as a civil rights attorney, judge, and Dean of our Congressional delegation. He changed the face of politics in FL and brought passion & unwavering dedication to the fight for justice. We are forever grateful for a life well lived. pic.twitter.com/K9mMhAYwrw
— Rep. Val Demings (@RepValDemings) April 6, 2021
Congressman Alcee Hastings was my friend. I’m heartbroken to hear this news! He was passionate, emotional, a straight & no chaser type of Member. He loved his constituents & he took time to teach young staffers from the bumps in life he experienced. #RIPAlcee you’ll be missed! https://t.co/zWFA8dJVGE
— Jaime Harrison, DNC Chair (@harrisonjaime) April 6, 2021
Rep. Alcee Hastings was my friend. He was one of the smartest people I have ever known, a mentor to so many, and he had courage like none other. He will be deeply missed.
— Secretary Marcia L. Fudge (@SecFudge) April 6, 2021
Hastings is survived by his wife, Patricia Williams; three adult children from previous marriages, Alcee Hastings II, Chelsea Hastings, Leigh Hastings; and a stepdaughter, Maisha.
Rest in power, Rep. Hastings!
Photo Credit: Palm Beach Post/Sun-Sentinel