Sun Sentinel Broward Edition
Friends, allies pay tribute to congressman.
Democrats and Republicans remember Hastings
State, local and national political leaders paid tribute to Alcee Hastings, the South Florida congressman who died Tuesday morning.
“I’m heartbroken at the passing of my dear friend, Alcee Hastings,” said U.S. Rep. Ted Deutch, a Democrat who represented an district adjacent to Hastings’ in 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,” Deutch said in a written statement. “Alcee was fierce and tough, but he was also so compassionate. You could find no better friend, no one more caring.”
U.S. Rep. Mario DiazBalart, a Miami-Dade County Republican, said in a statement that Hastings “was more than a colleague; he was a dear friend of mine and my family.”
“Alcee dedicated his life to helping others. His brilliance, perseverance, and charisma allowed him to build a lasting and meaningful legacy. Even during his last battle, the one that took his life, he continued to serve with passion, heart, and always with a smile on his face,” Diaz-Balart said. “Florida lost a legend.”
They were joined by dozens of current and former elected officials from both political parties.
“A trailblazing lawyer who grew up in the Jim Crow South, Alcee was outspoken because he was passionate about helping our nation live up to its full promise for all Americans,” President Joe Biden said in a statement. “Alcee always stood up to fight for equality, and always showed up for the working people he represented. And even in his final battle with cancer, he simply never gave up.”
Former U.S. Rep. Mark Foley, a Palm Beach County Republican, said by text message that Hastings “was a one of a kind human being.”
“He was a consummate gentleman and true friend. Congress lost two icons of the civil rights era this past year, John Lewis and Alcee Hastings,” Foley said.
Because he was ill with pancreatic cancer, Hastings couldn’t travel to Washington, D.C., in January to be sworn in to his 15th term in Congress. The oath of office was administered in South Florida by his longtime colleague, U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz.
“Florida has lost a brilliant, fearless, giant-hearted advocate for this state that he dearly loved, and Congress has lost a wise, patient and compassionate statesman,” Wasserman Schultz said in a written statement. “Alcee Hastings’ life was devoted to righting wrongs and he wasn’t afraid to use a little shame to press for change.”
“Rest well our dear brother,” the Congressional Black Caucus said in a statement. “We’ll take it from here.”
Matt Levin, CEO of the Jewish Federation of South Palm Beach County, praised Hastings’ “passion, compassion and fiery determination when it came to matters of justice, equality and access.”
Levin, who has known Hastings for decades, said he “demonstrated, in word and deed, the necessity for an unwavering commitment to what is just, even when it is unpopular — even when you may be unpopular. He was a bridge between cultures, an advocate for cultural freedoms and a staunch ally in the toughest battles.”
Former state Rep. Jared Moskowitz, a Broward Democrat, said “the Jewish community has lost one of their loudest voices and defenders.”
Dozens of other current and former elected officials praised Hastings.
“All who knew Alcee knew him as a champion for the most vulnerable in our nation,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said in a statement. “Congressman Hastings leaves behind a powerful legacy of activism and action on behalf of Floridians and all Americans.”
U.S. Rep. Jim Clyburn, D-S.C., said he and Hastings were college students when they met. “For nearly three decades, he represented his constituents with dignity, grace and an unwavering commitment to the fight for justice.”
“We will miss him both personally and miss his leadership,” said Broward Mayor Steve Geller, who has known Hastings for decades.
State Sen. Lauren Book, a Broward Democrat, said Hastings “left his beloved state of Florida better than he found it.”
U.S. Rep. Lois Frankel, a Palm Beach County Democrat, lost a bitter 1992 primary race to Hastings. Years later, the animosity had faded and Hastings endorsed Frankel when she ran in a primary for another congressional seat in 2012.
“It’s with a heavy heart that I have learned about the passing of my colleague and friend, Alcee Hastings,” Frankel said in a statement. “I’ve known Alcee for many years. He was a fierce fighter for civil rights and racial justice, and a great partner in Congress when it came to serving south Florida. He will be deeply missed.”