Longtime Rep. Alcee Hasting was known for his work in politics, civil rights

Former Rep. Alcee Hastings

Capital Outlook
And NSF Staff Reports

Just two weeks before the death of Representative Alcee Hastings, his fellow congressman Al Lawson was on the phone encouraging him in his fight against pancreatic cancer.

Hastings tenacity was obvious during the conversation, said Lawson, who represents the North Florida district.

“I told him I was praying for him,” Lawson said in a statement released just hours after Hastings died at age 84 last Tuesday. “Alcee was a fighter until the end. I will miss my friend, fraternity brother and fellow FAMU alum. His loss will be felt far beyond Florida and the halls of Congress.”

Hastings, who represented South Florida in the U.S. House for nearly three decades, was the longest-serving member of Florida’s congressional delegation. Hastings was elected to the House in 1992, after he was impeached and removed from office as a federal judge in 1989 following a probe into allegations related to bribery and perjury. 

He was appointed as a federal judge in 1979 by then-President Jimmy Carter. He was a 1963 graduate of FAMU Law School.

Hastings later went on to be elected 15 times, the last in 2020 with nearly 79 percent of the vote. 

FAMU president Larry Robinson was among those expressing condolence to Hastings’ family.

“Florida A&M University joins with the family of Congressman Alcee Hastings in mourning his loss,” said Robinson. “His life of leadership and service will be missed.”

Democrats also issued statements last Tuesday praising Hastings, with U.S. Rep. Ted Deutch, D-Fla., saying he was “heartbroken at the passing of my dear friend.”

“I had the honor of working side by side with Alcee for more than a decade, seeing first-hand his passion and drive for standing up to injustice and fighting for our community,” said Deutch, whose district, like Hastings’ district, includes parts of Broward and Palm Beach counties. “Alcee devoted his career to advancing civil rights for all Americans and human rights around the world. His leadership on racial justice issues brought together everyone committed to a more just and equitable society.”

State Sen. Perry Thurston, D-Fort Lauderdale, described Hastings as a “mentor, a friend and a fraternity brother.”

“Our political dean for South Florida for the past three decades, Congressman Hastings served our community, our state and our nation, and we are all the better for his dedicated commitment to public service, and his impact on countless lives,” Thurston said in a statement. “His legacy will forever live on and live with us. Rest in peace, my brother.”

Hastings announced in January 2019 that he had been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer.

“My doctors have stated that the advancement in the treatment of cancer is evolutionary and the success rates continue to climb resulting in a dramatic decrease in the number of cancer-related deaths,” Hastings said in a statement at the time. “I have been convinced that this is a battle worth fighting, and my life is defined by fighting battles worth fighting.”

Hastings’ 1992 election was a landmark event as he and two other Black Democrats — Corrine Brown and Carrie Meek — were elected to Congress.

He received praise last Tuesday for his work on civil-rights issues. Deutch also said Hastings “knew the importance of bringing together the Black and Jewish communities to achieve shared goals. He was a staunch supporter of the US-Israel relationship and valued the important bilateral partnership.”

“The Jewish community has lost one of their loudest voices and defenders. RIP,” tweeted Jared Moskowitz, director of the Florida Division of Emergency Management and a former Democratic state House member from Broward County.

A native of Altamonte Springs, Hastings graduated from Fisk University and received a law degree from FAMU, according to his U.S. House webpage. 

“It is with great sadness that the FAMU College of Law acknowledges the passing of its esteemed alumnus, U.S. Representative Alcee Hastings,” FAMU College of Law Dean Deidré Keller said. “He’s a true friend to the reestablished College of Law.” 

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