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Alcee Hastings (1936–2021), longtime U.S. Representative from Florida

by Linnea Crowther

Alcee Hastings was a U.S. Representative from Florida who served from 1993 until his death.

Before his congressional career

Hastings began his career as a lawyer in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, taking on civil rights cases in an area where the rights of Black people were often threatened in the 1960s and ‘70s. Hastings fought to desegregate Broward County schools and sued establishments that wouldn’t serve Black people. After building a reputation as a crusader for social justice, he made history in 1979 by becoming the first Black federal judge in Florida. But his term on the bench ended 10 years later in impeachment and removal after he was tried on charges of soliciting a bribe. He became the first sitting federal judge to be tried on criminal charges. The impeachment ended his judicial career, but it didn’t prevent him from seeking – and winning – public office in the future.

15 terms in the House

Hastings had mounted several unsuccessful bids for various public offices, including the U.S. Senate, before his first win in 1992 – just three years after he was removed from the federal bench. He was elected to the House, representing Florida’s 23rd district and later its 20th district. He would go on to mount another 14 successful campaigns, becoming the longest serving current member of the House. Serving on the Rules Committee, Hastings earned a reputation in Congress for speaking his mind.

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Hastings on his cancer diagnosis

“The most practical way of looking at it is I’ve had a good run. The simple fact of the matter is that… I have faced no challenge as considerable as this particular one, but I face it with the same courage that I’ve faced other challenges, and that is it ain’t nothing but something to do.” —from a 2019 speech at the Deerfield Beach Democratic Club

Tributes to Alcee Hastings

Full obituary: South Florida Sun Sentinel

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