ENG: Donald Milford Payne (July 16, 1934 – March 6, 2012) was the U.S. Representative for New Jersey's 10th congressional district, serving from 1989 until his death. He was a member of the Democratic Party. The district encompasses most of the city of Newark, parts of Jersey City and Elizabeth, and some suburban communities in Essex and Union counties. He was the first African American to represent New Jersey in Congress.
Early life, education, and early political career
Payne was born in Newark and was a 1952 graduate of Barringer High School. He did his undergraduate studies at Seton Hall University, graduating in 1957.
After graduating he pursued post-graduate studies in Springfield College in Massachusetts. Before being elected to Congress in 1988, Payne was an executive at Prudential Financial, Vice President of Urban Data Systems Inc., and a teacher in the Newark Public Schools. In 1970, Payne became the first black president of the National Council of YMCAs. From 1973 to 1981 he was Chairman of the World Y.M.C.A. Refugee and Rehabilitation Committee.
Payne's political career began in 1972, when he was elected to the Essex County Board of Chosen Freeholders, serving three terms.
In 1982, he was elected to the Newark Municipal Council and served three terms, resigning in 1988 shortly after his election to Congress.
U.S. House of Representatives - Elections
Payne ran against U.S. Congressman Peter Rodino in the 1980 and 1986 Democratic primaries but lost both times. Rodino retired in 1988 after 40 years in Congress. Payne defeated fellow Municipal Councilman Ralph T.
Grant, Jr. in the Democratic primary, which was tantamount to election in this heavily Democratic, black-majority district. He has been re-elected nine times with no substantive opposition, never dropping below 75% of the vote. He last faced a Republican opponent in 2000 and 2010.
In 2002, Payne ran against no Republican opponent gaining 84.5% of the vote, winning the highest margin of the vote than in any other New Jersey Congressional race. In the 2004 Congressional race the Republicans again had no candidate on the ballot and Payne easily won, with 97% of the vote, against Green Party candidate Toy-Ling Washington and Socialist Workers Party candidate Sara J.
Lobman. In 2006, Payne was completely unopposed in the primary and general elections. In 2008, he won 99% of the vote against Green candidate Michael Taber. In 2010, Payne defeated a little-known candidate Micheal Alonso.
Payne's voting record is considered to be the most consistently Progressive of all New Jersey Congressmen. He is pro-choice and against the death penalty.
He is a member, and former chair, of the Congressional Black Caucus and was chosen in 2002 by House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi to serve on the Democratic Steering Committee. The Democratic Steering Committee chooses which House Committees each individual Democratic Congressmen will serve on and also plays a crucial part in shaping the Democratic legislative agenda. In international issues Payne has been active in issues relating to Africa, particularly that of the current conflict in the Darfur region of Sudan.
As a leading advocate of education, he has been instrumental in the passage of key legislation, including the Goals 2000 initiative to improve elementary and secondary schools; the School-to-Work Opportunities Act; the National Service Act, establishment of the National Literacy Institute; and funding for Head Start, Pell Grants, Summer Jobs and Student Loans.
Payne is also a member of the U.S. House Committee on Foreign Affairs, where he serves as Chairman of the United States House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Africa and Global Health and as a member of the Subcommittee on the United States House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on the Western Hemisphere and the United States House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on International Organizations, Human Rights, and Oversight. Congressman Payne has been at the forefront of efforts to restore democracy and human rights in nations throughout the globe. He was one of five members of Congress chosen to accompany President Bill Clinton and Hillary Rodham Clinton on their historic six-nation tour of Africa. He also headed a Presidential mission to war-torn Rwanda to help find solutions to that country's political and humanitarian crises. In addition, he was recognized as having the most supportive record in Congress on issues involving the Northern Ireland peace process.
On June 22, 2001 Payne was arrested after protesting against the Sudanese government at its Embassy in Washington, D.C.. He is a supporter and has endorsed the Genocide Intervention Network.
In 2003, President George W. Bush appointed Payne as one of two members of Congress to serve as a Congressional delegate to the United Nations and reappointed him in 2005 to an unprecedented second term. In this role, he has met with the U.N. Secretary General, the U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. and regularly attended sessions of the U.N. General Assembly and other high level meetings.
He was one of the 31 who voted in the House to not count the electoral votes from Ohio in the United States presidential election, 2004.
Payne received an "A" on the liberal Drum Major Institute's 2005 Congressional Scorecard on middle-class issues.
Payne has served on the board of directors of the National Endowment for Democracy, TransAfrica, Discovery Channel Global Education Fund, the Congressional Award Foundation, the Boys and Girls Clubs of Newark, the Newark Day Center, the Fighting Back Initiative and the Newark YMCA. He has received numerous awards and honors from national, international and community-based organizations, including the Visionaries Award bestowed by the Africa Society and the prestigious Democracy Service Medal, which was previously awarded to Lech Walesa, the former Polish President and founder of the Solidarity movement, by the National Endowment for Democracy.
He supported Senator Barack Obama in his bid for the Democratic presidential nomination after originally supporting Hillary Clinton.
Several other of Payne's family members have held or currently hold public office. His son, Donald M. Payne, Jr., is president of the Newark Municipal Council and is an Essex County Freeholder-At-Large. His brother, William D. Payne, served in the New Jersey General Assembly from 1998 to 2008. His nephew, Craig A. Stanley, served in the General Assembly from 1996 to 2008.
Payne announced in a statement on February 10, 2012 that he is undergoing treatment for colon cancer. On March 2, 2012, it was reported that Payne had been flown from a hospital in Washington D.C. back to New Jersey via a medical transport plane and that he was "gravely ill". Payne died on March 6, 2012. He was 77.