New Jersey’s first African-American member of Congress has died of colon cancer at the age of 77. We wish his family and close friends, and the thousands of people he has represented in Congress for 23 years our greatest sympathies.
The congressman was flown home from Washington several days ago by medical transport after announcing just weeks earlier that he was being treated for colon cancer. Colleagues had already noticed a weight loss, but Payne said publicly that he intended to serve out his term and was not expecting to step down.
Payne has been in hospice care for several days, after being hospitalized in Washington, then flown back in a special medically-equipped plane to Teterboro Airport, then transferred to Barnabas Medical Center.
Payne was the Ranking Member of the Subcommittee on Africa and Global Health in House Foreign Affairs, and had traveled many times to Africa. He also served on subcommittees on early childhood, elementary and secondary education and in workforce protections. He was a member of both the Congressional Black Caucus & Congressional Human Rights Caucus.
The Paynes are a legacy family in Essex County Democratic politics. His son, Donald M. Payne, Jr., is current Council President in Newark and an Essex County Freeholder. His brother, William served in the NJ Assembly from 1998 to 2008, and his nephew, Craig A. Stanley, served 12 years in the Assembly starting 1996.
When we know the Congressman’s memorial details, we will share them here.