Florida Congressman Alcee Hastings, who dedicated his career to fighting for civil rights, died on Tuesday, according to the Orlando Sentinel. He was 84.
Hastings, who was in his 15th term in Congress, was diagnosed with Stage 4 pancreatic cancer in 2018, according to reports. He was in hospice care for the last few days.
Before he was in Congress, Hastings was a civil rights attorney where he, alongside his law partner W. George Allen, filed a lawsuit against a restaurant that wouldn’t serve food to Black judges and lawyers as well as a suit to desegregate Broward County Schools, according to South Florida Sun-Sentinel.
Hastings was Florida’s first Black federal judge but was impeached in 1989 because of alleged bribery and perjury, Axios reports.
He was elected to the House of Representatives in 1993.
BNC President and CEO Princell Hair told BNC in a statement:
Circa 1978, then Judge Alcee Hastings allowed a group of students to sit in his Broward County courtroom and watch the court proceedings. Afterward, he talked to the group about what they had just witnessed.
As the students were exiting his courtroom, he pulled the only black student aside and told the 11-year old kid that he could be “whatever he wanted to be in life”. And to “never let anyone tell you that you can’t. Because if they’re telling you that you can’t, it means they can’t.”
That kid was me. I know he had his issues but on that day, Judge Alcee Hastings inspired me. I will never forget what he did for me that day. May God rest his soul.