Congressman Donald Payne, Advocate for Africa, Dies

US Rep. Donald Payne, D-N.J. (file photo)
US Rep. Donald Payne, D-N.J. (file photo)

Congressman Donald Payne, the first African American elected to Congress from the northeastern state of New Jersey has died of colon cancer. The 77-year-old lawmaker was known as a dedicated advocate for more U.S. help for African nations.

Colleagues and activists are recalling Democratic Congressman Donald Payne, who died Tuesday, as a lawmaker who worked hard to help his constituents, and those who suffered overseas.

While in the House of Representatives, Payne was known as a de facto ambassador to Africa. He helped secure $100 million to help prevent and treat AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria, mostly in sub-Saharan Africa.

Darius Mans, president of Africare in Washington, called Payne a committed legislator who cared dearly about the plight of Africans.

"Whenever you needed something done on Africa he did not delegate it, he made sure it happened. Whether it took phone calls to the White House, rallying members of Congress Donald Payne always delivered for Africa."

U.S. Congressman Donald Payne was elected to the House of Representatives in 1988, the first black congressman elected from New Jersey. In the Capitol, he championed many causes including education and global affairs. As a member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee he worked to promote democracy and protect human rights overseas.

On Capitol Hill as news of Payne's death spread some of his colleagues like Congressman Steve Cohen from Tennessee praised his nearly 24 years of service.

"Representative Payne sat in this section, he was a quiet, right, courageous man who I had the good fortune to travel, at the request of and sponsorship of CARE and the Gates Foundation to Rwanda and to the Congo last August," he said. "He cared about children greatly, he cared about education."

On foreign affairs Congressman Payne was the author of legislation that sought to provide famine relief to the African nation of Darfur and bring an end to the bloody civil war there. Last December, Voice of America interviewed Congressman Payne about his work in Africa.

"I have been very involved in Sudan since arriving in Congress and actually took my first trip there in 1989 or 90 down into Nimule and was in areas where the SPLA was waging war and have visited South Sudan maybe over a dozen times since then," he said.

In 2009, Payne escaped injury in a mortar attack on the airport in the Somali capital, Mogadishu. His plane managed to take off in time. He had just finished a visit there to discuss security issues with the country's leaders.

On domestic issues Payne, a former teacher, was instrumental in advancing policies to make a U.S. college education more affordable. Democratic House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi described Donald Payne as a leader of conscience and a outspoken advocate of human rights for all people.

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
by: Daniel Eiffe,Irish Was director of Norwegian peoples Aid and now UNDP pol Advisor Juba
March 07, 2012 1:29 AM
I was most privileged to recieve and accompany Cong Payne on his first and many visits to Sothh Sudan when the war was at its worst.He was most couragous and did more than other US rep to expose the sufferring of the Southern Sudanese..We all owe a great deal to him for assisting the freedom os SS,. South Sudanese will forever remember him. May God reward him for his compassion for suffering.may god console his loving family upon their great loss.

by: Patricia
March 06, 2012 3:51 PM
The Honorable Congressman was a true and trusted friend for more than 30 years. A Gentleman and a scholar, I will always love him and for what he stood. Rest in Peace Congressman.

by: Patricia
March 06, 2012 3:49 PM
The Honorable Congressman was a true and trusted friend for more than 30 years. A Gentleman and a scholar, I will always love him and for what he stood. Rest in Peace Congressman.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Russia Accused of Abusing Interpol to Pursue Opponentsi
Henry Ridgwell
July 28, 2015 9:53 PM
A British pro-democracy group has accused Russia of abusing the global law enforcement agency Interpol by requesting the arrest and extradition of political opponents. A new report by the group notes such requests can mean the accused are unable to travel and are often unable to open bank accounts. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.

Video Russia Accused of Abusing Interpol to Pursue Opponents

A British pro-democracy group has accused Russia of abusing the global law enforcement agency Interpol by requesting the arrest and extradition of political opponents. A new report by the group notes such requests can mean the accused are unable to travel and are often unable to open bank accounts. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.

Video Genome Initiative Urgently Moves to Freeze DNA Before Species Go Extinct

Earth is in the midst of its sixth mass extinction. The last such event was caused by an asteroid 66 million years ago. It killed off the dinosaurs and practically everything else. So scientists are in a race against time to classify the estimated 11 million species alive today. So far only 2 million are described by science, and researchers are worried many will disappear before they even have a name. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports.

Video Scientists: One-Dose Malaria Cure is Possible

Scientists have long been trying to develop an effective protection and cure for malaria - one of the deadliest diseases that affects people in tropical areas, especially children. As the World Health Organization announces plans to begin clinical trials of a promising new vaccine, scientists in South Africa report that they too are at an important threshold. George Putic reports, they are testing a compound that could be a single-dose cure for malaria.

Video Special Olympics Athletes Meet International Friends

The Special Olympics are underway in Los Angeles, California, with athletes from 165 countries participating in an event that gives people with intellectual disabilities the chance to take part in an international competition. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports that for athletes and their families, it's also an opportunity to make new friends in an international setting.

Video 'New York' Magazine Features 35 Cosby Accusers

The latest issue of 'New York' magazine features 35 women who say they were drugged and raped by film and television celebrity Bill Cosby. The women are aged from 44 to 80 and come from different walks of life and races. The magazine interviewed each of them separately, but Zlatica Hoke reports their stories are similar.

Video US Calls Fight Against Human Trafficking a Must Win

The United States is promising not to give up its fight against what Secretary of State John Kerry calls the “scourge” of modern slavery. Officials released the country’s annual human trafficking report Monday – a report that’s being met with some criticism. VOA’s National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more from the State Department.

Video Iran Nuclear Pact Wins Few New US Congressional Backers

Later this week, President Barack Obama returns from a trip to Africa to confront a U.S. Congress roiled by the nuclear accord with Iran, an agreement that has received the blessing of the U.N. Security Council. Days of intensive lobbying and testimony by top administration officials have won few new congressional supporters of the pact. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports.

Video Washington DC Underground Streetcar Station to Become Arts Venue

Abandoned more than 50 years ago, the underground streetcar station in Washington D.C.’s historic DuPont Circle district is about to be reborn. The plan calls for turning the spacious underground platforms - once meant to be a transportation hub, - into a unique space for art exhibitions, presentations, concerts and even a film set. Roman Mamonov has more from beneath the streets of the U.S. capital. Joy Wagner narrates his report.

Video Europe’s Twin Crises Collide in Greece as Migrant Numbers Soar

Greece has replaced Italy as the main gateway for migrants into Europe, with more than 100,000 arrivals in the first six months of 2015. Many want to move further into Europe and escape Greece’s economic crisis, but they face widespread dangers on the journey overland through the Balkans. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.

Video Stink Intensifies as Lebanon’s Trash Crisis Continues

After the closure of a major rubbish dump a week ago, the streets of Beirut are filling up with trash. Having failed to draw up a plan B, politicians are struggling to deal with the problem. John Owens has more for VOA from Beirut.

Video Paris Rolls Out Blueprint to Fight Climate Change

A U.N. climate conference in December aims to produce an ambitious agreement to fight heat-trapping greenhouse gases. But many local governments are not waiting, and have drafted their own climate action plans. That’s the case with Paris — which is getting special attention, since it’s hosting the climate summit. Lisa Bryant takes a look for VOA at the transformation of the French capital into an eco-city.

Video Racially Diverse Spider-Man Takes Center Stage

Whether it’s in a comic book or on the big screen, fans have always known the man behind the Spider-Man mask as Peter Parker. But that is changing, at least in the comic book world. Marvel Comics announced that a character called Miles Morales will replace Peter Parker as Spider-Man in a new comic book series. He is half Latino, half African American, and he is quite popular among comic book fans. Correspondent Elizabeth Lee reports from Los Angeles.

Video Critics of Japan Defense Policy Focus on Okinawa

In Okinawa, many locals have long complained that Tokyo places an unfair burden on the tiny island by locating most of Japan's U.S. military bases there. As Japan's government moves toward strengthening and expanding the country's defense policies, opponents of those plans are joining local protesters in Okinawa, voicing concern about where the country is headed. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from Okinawa.

Video IS Uses Chemical Weapons in Syrian Attack

Islamic State militants have added a new weapon in their arsenal of fear: chemical weapons. VOA Kurdish service reporter Zana Omer was on the scene within hours of a recent attack in Hasakah, Syria, and has details of the subsequent investigation, in this report narrated by Miguel Amaya.

Video Historic Symbol Is Theme of Vibrant New Show

A new exhibit in Washington is paying tribute to the American flag with a wide and eclectic selection of artwork that uses the historic symbol as its central theme. VOA’s Julie Taboh was at the DC Chamber of Commerce for the show’s opening.

VOA Blogs