Rep. Donald Payne

U.S. Rep. Donald Payne, the long-term congressman from New Jersey, died Tuesday morning after a long battle with colon cancer. He was 77 years old.

Payne was New Jersey’s first African-American congressman and was a past chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus. He served 12 terms in the House of Representatives and was a member of House committees on education and foreign affairs, as well as the most recent chair of the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation.

Payne may be best known, however, for his commitment to issues surrounding African, especially relief causes.

The Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law remembered Payne Tuesday as “a global champion for civil and human rights.”

In a statement, the group’s public policy director, Tanya Clay House, stated, “I am deeply saddened to learn of the death of Representative Payne. His own personal respect for all humanity was evident in the work he accomplished while serving as a Congressman. He will be greatly missed by the civil rights community and his legacy will serve as an example to us all.”

Payne was hospitalized Friday at Georgetown University Hospital in Washington, D.C. but was soon flown to his home state of New Jersey where he was placed in Hospice care.

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