WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. (WTXL) — U.S. Rep. Alcee Hastings, D-Fla., a longtime congressman who represented South Florida for almost three decades, has died, Palm Beach County Commissioner Mack Bernard said Tuesday morning.
Hastings, who announced in January 2019 that he was undergoing treatment for pancreatic cancer, was 84.
A native of Altamonte, Springs, Hastings attended Florida’s public schools. He graduated from Fisk University in 1958 and later attended FAMU law school then based on the University’s main campus in Tallahassee.
“Florida A&M University joins with the family of Congressman Alcee Hastings in mourning his loss,” said President Larry Robinson, Ph.D.
Hastings was elected to the United States House of Representatives in 1992, representing Florida’s 23rd district in South Florida. After redistricting, Hastings represented Florida’s 20th district since January 2013 and didn’t face a serious challenge for re-election since. During his congressional tenure, the former civil rights attorney and federal judge won election 15 times. He represented parts of Broward and Palm Beach counties.
“A 1963 graduate of the original FAMU Law School, Congressman Hastings was the longest-serving member of the Florida delegation. His life of leadership and service will be missed,” Robinson added.
During the 117th Congress, Hastings served as the vice-chairman of the House Rules Committee, is a member of the U.S. Helsinki Commission, and dean and co-chairman of the Florida Delegation.
In 1979, Hastings was appointed by President Jimmy Carter, becoming the first African American federal Judge in Florida. He served in that position for 10 years. With his election to Congress in 1992, Hastings was among the first African Americans to be elected from Florida since Reconstruction.
“It is with great sadness that the FAMU College of Law acknowledges the passing of its esteemed alumnus, U.S. Representative Alcee Hastings. He’s a true friend to the reestablished College of Law,” said FAMU College of Law Dean Deidré Keller.
The College recognized him during the Distinguished Alumni Awards program as a Legacy Award honoree in 2017 and he served as the keynote speaker for the Annual Hooding Ceremony in 2014.
“On behalf of the students, faculty, staff, and alumni of the FAMU College of Law, I express my sincere condolences to the family, friends and constituents of Rep. Hastings,” Keller said. “His legacy of strength and tenacity lives on in current and future Rattlers for Justice.”
Throughout his career, he was an outspoken advocate for Floridians and championed the rights of minorities, women, the elderly, children, and immigrants.