U.S. Rep. Donald Payne, who served New Jersey’s 10th congressional district for 23 years, died this morning after a months-long battle with colon cancer. A native of Newark, Payne was the state’s first black congressman. Shortly after his death was reported by The Star-Ledger, politicians from across the state reached out to express sympathy. President Barack Obama: Michelle and I were saddened to hear about the passing of Congressman Donald Payne, Chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation and former Chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus. By any standard, Don lived a full and meaningful life. After serving as the first African American President of the National Council of YMCAs, and then several years in local government, Don went on to become the first African American Congressman to represent the state of New Jersey. In Washington, he made it his mission to fight for working families, increase the minimum wage, ensure worker safety, guarantee affordable health care and improve the educational system. He was a leader in US-Africa policy, making enormous contributions towards helping restore democracy and human rights across the continent. Don will be missed, and our thoughts and prayers go out to his family and friends during this difficult time. Former U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi: Congressman Donald Payne was a leader of conscience and a public servant of diligence. He was admired by his colleagues; he earned respect around the world for his outspoken advocacy on behalf of human rights and the worth and dignity of every person. Congressman Payne spoke out on behalf of suffering people in some of the most difficult situations around the world: from Rwanda to Sudan to the peace process in Northern Ireland. It was a personal privilege to travel with Congressman Payne to Darfur; he was a leader in bringing attention to the genocide there. He was an expert on the political, economic, and security situation throughout the continent of Africa. I was proud to recognize Congressman Payne’s global advocacy by recommending that President George W. Bush name him a congressional delegate to the United Nations. His work here at home, especially on behalf of his constituents and America’s middle class families, was unwavering. I hope it is a comfort to those who loved Congressman Payne that so many grieve their loss and and are praying for them in this sad time. N.J. Assembly Speaker Sheila Y. Oliver (D-Essex/Passaic): Today is a truly sad day for America and our great state. We have lost a trailblazer, and we have lost a friend. I have known Donald Payne for most of my life. He has always been a role model to me, and I will never forget his historic victory that made him New Jersey’s first African-American elected to Congress. His dedication to his constituent and all Americans was unwavering. He was a leader in every sense of the word. Congressman Payne’s work was exemplary in so many ways. He was a tireless advocate for public education and affordable college. He was a champion for working families. He was a defender of freedom and human rights. His work on global affairs was an example of his compassion. He was everything one would want from a Congressman, and then some. I will miss my Congressman and friend, as will all of New Jersey. On behalf of the New Jersey General Assembly, I send my condolences to Congressman Payne’s family. Our thoughts and prayers are with them at their time of grief. N.J. Senate President Steve Sweeney: From roots set firmly in Newark, Congressman Payne rose to not only be a leading Democratic voice in Washington, but a respected figure around the world. As New Jersey’s first African-American member of Congress, he opened a door to public service that will never be closed. More than anything, Rep. Payne’s dedication to education, especially for our urban youth, will stand as his lasting legacy. Countless kids in New Jersey and across the nation have brighter futures thanks to the Congressman’s unwavering support for their schools, for Head Start and for the Pell Grants that have put college within their reach. But even when his attention turned to the innocents caught in the crossfire in the war-town areas of our world, his heart was always with New Jersey and his hometown. He was a model for Congressional service: Always thinking globally, but acting locally. My deepest sympathies go out to the Payne family at this time. On behalf of my Senate colleagues, I thank them for sharing Donald with all of us, and the world. N.J. Senator and former Governor Richard J. Codey Today the world lost a true global citizen, New Jersey lost an honored favorite son, and many of us lost a dear friend. Donald Payne began his public service in the classrooms of Newark, and even as a leading member of Congress, never forgot where he came from. Improving the lives of Newark’s children, and ensuring that every child in every city is given the schooling and tools they need to succeed, drove his public life. When war threatened the lives of innocent people in far-flung parts of the globe, Donald was never silent. He was a crusader for human rights, and a believer in the dignity of every person regardless of their station in life. From the halls of Congress to the United Nations, his efforts to promote democracy and human rights were unequalled by many. He was larger than life, but never acted like it, and wherever there was oppression, he traveled there to help the oppressed. But even when work took him abroad, his heart was always in Essex County. The Payne family should rightly be proud of Donald’s life and achievements, as we all are. As they grieve his loss, so do all of us who proudly stood alongside him for so many years. Governor Chris Christie: Mary Pat and I offer our condolences to the Payne family on the loss of Congressman Payne. He was a leader with great compassion for every person he had the honor of representing. He was a great role model for every person in New Jersey who aspires to public service. He was a true gentlemen and we considered him a friend. Rev. Jesse L. Jackson, Sr.: Donald Payne was a friend to me for forty years. He was a social worker, a teacher and the foremost authority on Africa with a commitment to democracy, change and justice in the U.S. Congress. Serving 23 years in the House of Representatives, Congressman Payne stood out as a voice and frame of reference because of his in-depth knowledge of every African leader and the challenges their countries faced. He used his knowledge and scholarly pursuits to help shape U.S. policies as they related to Africa. As he pursued expanding mutually beneficial ties with Africa, the pursuit to free Mandela, ending colonialism, and expanding democracy in Africa – Donald Payne was a force for hope. His passing leaves a huge hole in the sky. He will be remembered forever and missed by many. We offer our sincerest condolences to his family. U.S. Rep. Steve Rothman (NJ-9): Congressman Donald Payne was my friend. He was also a giant. History will record that Donald Payne saved literally tens of thousands of lives in his work in the United States, Northern Ireland, and Africa over a lifetime of public service. In his long journey to become a congressman, he traveled many different paths as a father, husband, grandfather, great-grandfather, teacher, longshoreman, among a list too long to describe briefly. He was a true pioneer and champion for civil and human rights here at home and around the world. And beneath his serious and strong, statesman’s demeanor was a warm, charming, funny, smart and great friend to so many. I will miss him deeply. My thoughts and prayers go out to his wonderful family. Newark Mayor Cory Booker: Newark, New Jersey, has lost a home-grown hero, a champion to us and people all over the globe. Congressman Donald M. Payne, Sr., lived a life of unyielding service to others. From being an educator, a leader in local government, and head of nonprofits to his eventual role on the national and global stage as New Jersey’s first African-American Congressman, Donald Payne, Sr., was a defender of and advocate for the rights, liberties, equal opportunities, and dignity of all people. We mourn the loss of one of Newark’s greatest trailblazing leaders, and yet in this time of pain and grief, we also celebrate our humble hero, who lived an extraordinary life of contribution and distinction. Newark Councilman Ron C. Rice: Congressman Donald Payne was more than a son of Newark. He was an icon who was not only a trailblazer for New Jersey, but also a pioneer who made a real difference in the lives of all Americans, particularly African-Americans. What barriers existed, he helped tear down and showed future generations that the promise of America was accessible to all of us. I am truly in his debt, for I would not be here without him. God bless the Payne family. My thoughts and prayers are with them. U.S. Rep. Rush Holt (NJ-12): Don Payne has been a good friend to me and someone I’ve looked up to in Congress. No one in Congress has been a stronger advocate for equality of opportunity in education. No one has been a greater advocate for child services and youth development. No one has been more knowledgeable about Africa. No one has been more consistent in the fight to respect workers’ safety and working conditions. He always looked after the interests of the entire state of New Jersey and especially of his constituents. He was instrumental in bringing international attention and condemnation to the genocide in Darfur. And as a former educator, he brought an invaluable perspective to our work together on the Education Committee. My thoughts and prayers are with his family, his constituents, and his many friends. U.S. Rep. Frank Pallone, Jr. (NJ-6): I am deeply saddened to learn of the loss of my dear friend and colleague, Congressman Don Payne. Don and I came to Congress together in 1988 and I was fortunate to have had the opportunity to not only serve with him, but to develop a long-lasting friendship. Don was a pioneer. He was the first African American elected to Congress from New Jersey, and as a Congressman, Don was a tireless champion for the disadvantaged, poor and underserved both in New Jersey and throughout the world. I offer my sincerest and most heartfelt sympathies to Don’s family and friends. U.S. Rep. Bill Pascrell, Jr. (D-8th District): New Jersey has lost one of its greatest leaders in the fight for equality and fairness for all Americans, and one of the greatest advocates for families of the Garden State. Congressman Payne and I served the people of Montclair, South Orange and West Orange together, but we were aligned in so many other ways as well. I was proud to serve alongside him in the fight to keep our cities safer, to provide greater opportunities for our young people and to give all Americans access to quality affordable health care. Donald Payne was a true trailblazer – a champion for education and civil rights who sought to combat injustice all over the world. I will greatly miss my friend and brother. My thoughts and prayers are with his family. May Donald Payne rest in peace. U.S. Sen. Frank R. Lautenberg (D-NJ): Congressman Donald Payne was my good friend and a trailblazer in our state who opened the door for African Americans in New Jersey to excel in public service. Congressman Payne was so conscientious of people’s lives and always focused on those who needed the most help. His passing is a loss for Newark and the people he represented and fought for in New Jersey, across the country and around the world. Donald Payne will be missed, but his work will not be forgotten and his legacy will live forever. U.S. Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen (NJ-11): Don Payne and I have been friends for over 35 years. We served as Freeholders together in our respective counties, Morris and Essex, before he preceded me to Congress. It was evident to all that he loved Newark and we worked together to revitalize the Passaic River waterfront that for years was inaccessible. Don will be deeply missed, especially for his dedicated service to his constituents over several decades. N.J. Assemblyman John F. McKeon “New Jersey mourns the loss of a historic leader and a dedicated public servant in Congressman Donald Payne. He wil be remembered for his tireless advocacy for the poor and his belief in peace, justice and equality for all; “His heroic work to shed light on the genocide in Darfur saved countless lives who will never know his name; “This was the essence of his leadership, which provided a stunning example for all who aspire to public service; “Whether advocating for our mutual constituents in the City of Orange and the Township of Maplewood or providing his unique brand of humble guidance to international leaders, Congressman Payne was a role model to me and all who will follow him; As I reflect on his legacy and example, my thoughts and prayers are with the entire Payne family.” U.S. Rep. David Dreier (R-CA), House Rules Committee chairman: I am deeply saddened by the loss of my dear friend and esteemed colleague, Don Payne. I was privileged to serve with Don for more than two decades. I always had enormous respect for his passion, dedication and encyclopedic knowledge of a range of foreign policy issues, particularly the 54 nations of Africa. He was one of the founding Members of the House Democracy Partnership, a commission that benefited tremendously from his expertise and commitment. In November Don and I had the opportunity to travel together throughout Eastern and Central Europe to commemorate the post-Soviet transition to democracy of several nations. He endured with good spirits a number of speeches honoring Ronald Reagan, never failing to remind me that John F. Kennedy was the world’s leading champion of democracy long before Reagan’s presidency. We continued on to Egypt, where Don and I served as international witnesses in the first round of parliamentary elections. His enthusiasm and energy never flagged as he spent two long days traveling from poll to poll in Egypt’s first true election in 7,000 years. As Don always exemplified, our endeavor to protect human rights, promote the rule of law, create economic prosperity and eradicate violent extremism through the building of democratic institutions is a thoroughly bipartisan one. He will be greatly missed by all who were privileged to know him. U.S. Rep. Albio Sires (NJ-13): I am deeply saddened to hear about the death of my colleague Congressman Donald Payne. The residents of the 10th Congressional District have lost a great leader and the Payne family has lost a beloved patriarch. My sympathies go out to his son Councilman Donald Payne Jr, his daughters Nicole and Wanda and his grandchildren. Human rights, health-care and education were among his top priorities. His leadership efforts in these areas will succeed him for many years to come. He was a champion for all people and believed that everyone should have the chance to realize their potential to the fullest. The Congressman’s fight against discrimination and consideration for the underrepresented will never be forgotten. As a member of the US House Foreign Affairs committee I was honored to work with Congressman Payne on the forefront of efforts to restore democracy and human rights in nations throughout the globe. Seton Hall University President A. Gabriel Esteban: Our Seton Hall community is deeply saddened to learn of the passing of Congressman Donald Payne. Congressman Payne was a model educator and public servant who fervently believed in the value that good government could provide to the citizens of his beloved 10th District and Americans everywhere. Congressman Payne remained a greatly involved and dedicated alumnus since graduating Seton Hall in 1957. He served on numerous boards and committees and was an unwavering, ever-positive presence at so many of our men’s basketball games. He particularly enjoyed attending home games the past few seasons at the Prudential Center in his beloved Newark. We will be forever grateful for all he did to secure significant financial support for our state-of-the-future Science and Technology Center, ensuring that Seton Hall will continue, for generations to come, to educate servant leaders in scientific fields so important to our nation’s prosperity and health. My family and I, along with the entire Seton Hall community, extend our sincerest condolences to the entire Payne family as we hold Don and his family in our thoughts and prayers. Congressional Black Caucus Chairman Emanuel Cleaver, II: Today, the Congressional Black Caucus lost a beloved and tremendous member in the passing of Congressman and past CBC Chairman Donald M. Payne. As the first African American Representative from the state of New Jersey, Donald Payne was a shining example of what hard work, determination, and intellect can accomplish in public service. For 12 terms, Congressman Payne worked tirelessly, not only on behalf of his constituents in New Jersey, but also for global affairs and the plight of people of color throughout the Diaspora. He most recently served as the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation Chair where he worked diligently to improve the socioeconomic circumstances of African Americans through research and education. He also demonstrated his commitment to parity in education through his service as one of the most senior members on the Committee on Education and the Workforce. His work as a member of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs helped promote the democracy and protect basic human rights abroad. As the Ranking Member of the Subcommittee on Africa and Global Health, he was also the author of legislation that provided famine relief in Darfur and facilitated the peace process in that area. He also founded the Malaria Caucus and helped to secure billions of dollars in aid to treat HIV, AIDs, tuberculosis and malaria abroad. Congressman Payne provided me with a tremendous amount of support as I became the CBC Chair. I am particularly grateful for his constant encouragement and lessons on the great history of this Caucus. At a time when the political rhetoric has become toxic and elected officials often pander to their basic instincts of the most radical part of themselves, Donald Payne continued to represent his constituents as a forceful statesman. It is with profound sorrow that I express my sympathies to the family, friends, and staff of my tremendous colleague and dear friend, Congressman Payne. Men of his caliber are far and few in between and it has been a great honor to work with him. Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams: Donald Payne was a champion for the disadvantaged and downtrodden in the United States and around the world. He devoted his life to promoting civil rights, equality and democracy. I met Donald many times both in Washington and in Ireland. He was always very interested in Ireland and visited the north before the cessations in the mid 1990’s. Donald was very supportive of the Irish peace process from the beginning and was a regular participant in briefings which I and other Sinn Féin visitors gave to political leaders on Capitol Hill. He was also a frequent member of Congressional delegations that visited Ireland. Donald will also be fondly remembered by citizens on the Garvaghy Road, in north Belfast and the Short Strand which he visited at a time when efforts were being made to force controversial orange marches through those districts. His experience as a civil rights campaigner also resonated with his audience in west Belfast when he spoke there during the west Belfast Féile on the issue of equality and anti-discrimination legislation. During a debate in Washington on the McBride principles he remarked that: “I and other members of the Congressional Black caucus can easily identify with the Catholic minority…I recognise many similarities in how they are treated with how people here were treated.” Donald was a thoughtful, generous, and well informed politician who was personally dedicated to improving conditions for others and who worked diligently on behalf of his constituents and of his party. He will be remembered with gratitude and real affection for his support at difficult and dangerous times in Ireland and elsewhere in the world. He will be sadly missed by his own constituents and by people the world over. I want to extend by sincerest regrets and deepest sympathy to his family and friends. Go ndeanfaidh dia trocaire ar a n’anam dílis. DNC Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz: I am deeply saddened by the passing of my colleague, Congressman Donald Payne. As the first African American elected to represent New Jersey in Congress, Don was truly a tireless champion for the City of Newark, for the 10th Congressional District and for all of the less fortunate among us who needed a voice in the halls of power. As a former chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus, Congressman Payne was a fierce advocate for workforce protections for America’s working families, and as a leading advocate of quality education, he was an active supporter of funding for Head Start, Pell Grants and affordable student loans. So many of us also knew him as a powerful voice for peace in the Darfur conflict, and as a former Chairman of the House Subcommittee on Africa and Global Health, he dedicated himself to the critical mission of addressing the HIV/AIDS pandemic in sub-Saharan Africa. As we mourn today’s news, I extend my sincerest condolences to Congressman Payne’s family and friends in this difficult time. U.S. Rep. Rob Andrews (NJ-1): I am deeply saddened by the loss of Congressman Donald Payne, a man whose devotion to public service has spanned four decades and whose work has touched the lives of so many. Donald was a selfless leader who never lost sight of the needs of working families both in America and abroad. He will be remembered for his steadfast commitment to improving civil rights and education, but also for his leadership in advancing social justice around the world. Particularly, through his work on the African continent, Donald has singlehandedly raised awareness on critical human rights issues around the globe. He will certainly be missed by those he served in New Jersey as well as the countless others whose lives have improved because of his advocacy. Essex County Executive Joseph N. DiVincenzo, Jr.: As the first African American elected to represent New Jersey in the United States Congress, Donald Payne was a civil rights pioneer and trailblazer. He dedicated most of his professional life to serving the public, providing strong representation and working hard to improve his constituents’ quality of life. He also was an international figure who campaigned tirelessly for human rights and raised awareness about the human tragedies in Africa. Today is a sad day because we have lost a statesman, we have lost a gentleman and we have lost a friend. U.S. Rep. Leonard Lance (NJ-7): I extend my deepest sympathy to the family of Congressman Donald Payne upon his passing. Congressman Payne occupies a unique place in New Jersey history as the State’s first African-American Member of Congress. His almost 24-year tenure in the House of Representatives included service as Chair of the Congressional Black Caucus. It has been my honor to serve in Congress with Donald Payne and to serve in the New Jersey Legislature with his brother, William Payne. My wife, Heidi, and I extend our thoughts and prayers to the entire Payne family. U.S. Rep. Scott Garrett (R-NJ): I was saddened to learn of the passing of my colleague Rep. Donald Payne. Throughout our tenure together in Congress, I always respected Don for his commitment to representing his constituents in the House of Representatives. My thoughts and prayers go out to his family and friends today as they mourn the loss of such a great man. U.S. Rep. Frank A. LoBiondo (NJ-2): My wife Tina and I extend our deepest sympathies to the family of Congressman Donald Payne, who served New Jersey with distinction and honor for more than two decades. His leadership was welcomed and respected at home and in the Congress. His passion for civil rights and stewardship of the Congressional Black Caucus will always be remembered. Our thoughts and prayers go out to the Payne family and the residents of the 10th district who lost a champion of their interests. U.S. Secretary of Labor Hilda L. Solis: I want to express my deepest and most heartfelt condolences to the family of Rep. Donald Payne. Words cannot express how saddened I was to learn of his passing. I had the privilege of working with Don for more than a decade. He was a mentor, a colleague and a friend. In Congress, we served side by side on the Education Workforce Committee and collaborated on an Aspen Institute initiative that looked at higher education access issues for minority students. When I became the nation’s secretary of labor, Don provided support, encouragement and astute guidance. I will always value his judgment and insight. As the first African-American to represent New Jersey in Congress, Don was a trailblazer. He was a champion for the underserved, a powerful voice for his community and his constituents, and a strong advocate for our most vulnerable. And his compassion, as well as his efforts, stretched across the globe, as he devoted significant time and energy to African relief causes. Don’s selfless leadership inspired countless other members of Congress, as well as their staffs. I will miss him. I know so many others will too. New Jersey State AFL-CIO President Charles Wowkanech: We were truly grieved by the passing of Congressman Donald Payne, and we extend our deepest sympathies to his family and friends during this sad time. Congressman Payne made history as New Jersey’s first African-American member of Congress, and continued to make a difference throughout his career as a promoter of human rights and worker justice. He represented the values of his constituents with the highest level of integrity for over 20 years. Congressman Payne was an unwavering champion for New Jersey’s working families and was a strong and dedicated voice in support of collective bargaining rights. Congressman Payne maintained a 100 percent voting record as an advocate for labor rights. His work to advance workforce protections has been of immense value to countless working families. Congressman Payne’s passing is a great loss to our state and all New Jerseyans. He will be deeply missed. Yet his legacy and memory will continue to live on. Please join us in keeping the Payne family in your prayers. N.J. Assembly Republican Leader Jon Bramnick: Our state has lost a dedicated public servant who devoted his life to serving his constituents and fighting for those less fortunate. His service to New Jersey and our country is appreciated and will never be forgotten. On behalf of Assembly Republican caucus, I wish to offer our sincerest condolences to Congressman Payne’s family and friends. Jeff Tittel, Director of the New Jersey Chapter of the Sierra Club: We are very saddened to hear about the loss of Congressman Donald Payne today. Congressman Payne has been a real environmental hero. He is a Congressman who has not only established himself as having one of the best environmental records in Congress but has been a leader in protecting our environment.” He has been a leader on issues like climate change and women’s health, here at home and internationally, and environmental issues impacting New Jersey like cleaning up the Passaic River and toxic sites and opposing drilling off our coast. Nationally he has been a leader on green energy, transportation, and preserving lands in Alaska. He has been a leader in the fight for environmental justice and had a firsthand understanding that some communities are overburdened with pollution and has worked to clean up and protect those communities. Congressman Payne has always led by example. He was someone you never had to lobby because he was always on the environmental side of an issue before you had a chance to talk to him. When you did talk with him, not only did he have a strong commitment to the issue, he would actually help you and give you ideas to lobby other members to support the issue. When you went down to Washington D.C. to see Congressman Payne you met with him, not just his staff. Nationally he has had one of the strongest environmental records of any Congressman for the longest time. With almost 24 years in Congress, he has always scored high on the Environmental Scorecard and he has also been a real leader and champion for the environment. Congressman Payne had already received an early endorsement from the Sierra Club for the upcoming election because of his strong record and he is someone that will be hard to replace. When you see toxic sites cleaned up or renewable energy being built, when you see open space preserved, Congressman Payne helped to make it happen. That is his legacy, a better environment for the people of his district, New Jersey, and the United States. Rutgers University President Richard McCormick and Rutgers-Newark Interim Chancellor Philip Yeagle: The Rutgers University community mourns the passing of U.S. Rep. Donald Payne. Congressman Payne was a great friend of Rutgers and a constant advocate for access and opportunity in higher education. He championed Pell Grants, school-to-work programs and the College Cost Reduction Act to benefit students nationwide, and he had a special relationship with Rutgers University’s Newark Campus, located in the heart of his Congressional district. For decades Congressman Payne brought an annual pre-college fair to Rutgers-Newark involving 500 to 1,000 children from the Greater Newark area, and many of our university’s students were recipients of his scholarship program or served as interns in his office on Capitol Hill. Don Payne represented New Jersey with distinction and dignity throughout his 12 terms, and he was a towering figure in international relations, particularly U.S. relationships in Africa. He leaves a legacy of helping people make a better life for themselves – in his district and around the world. Our hearts are with his family, his colleagues and the people of the 10th Congressional District whom he served so well. Rev. Robert Moore, Executive Director of Coalition for Peace Action: It is with great sadness that I share the news of the death of Rep. Donald Payne, New Jersey’s only African American member of the US Congress. The Coalition for Peace Action (CFPA) had honored Rep. Payne with a Patriot for Peace Award some years ago, and was blessed to have him as a speaker at one of our Annual Membership Dinners as well. Rep. Payne was a great leader for peace and justice, and had the most exemplary record on National Peace Action’s annual Voting Report, garnering a 100% perfect record almost every year. Our sincere condolences to his family, friends, and colleagues. We will miss him dearly. N.J. Assemblywoman Nancy F. Muñoz, (R-Union, Morris and Somerset): I am saddened to learn of the passing of Congressman Donald Payne. I had the honor of knowing Donald with my late husband Dr. Eric Muñoz. They shared a great concern and passion for the well being of the people of Newark. Congressman Payne was an extraordinary public servant and a kind and decent man. I offer my deepest sympathy to the Payne family.