Chairman Cleaver’s Statement on the Passing of Congressman Donald M. Payne

Washington, DC – Today, Chairman Emanuel Cleaver, II released the following statement on the passing on Congressman Donald M. Payne:

“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.”

- Chairman Emanuel Cleaver, II

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