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Bill Clinton Among Mourners Remembering NJ Congressman Donald Payne

Former colleagues, including President Bill Clinton, are remembering a pioneering New Jersey congressman who died last week of colon cancer.

Congressman Donald Payne with Senator Frank Lautenberg
Congressman Donald Payne with Senator Frank Lautenberg (Chris Greenberg, Getty Images)

Clinton called U.S. Rep. Donald Payne “a dear friend” and said Payne “made me a better president” for his efforts in Africa and elsewhere.

Payne’s funeral was held Wednesday at Newark’s Metropolitan Baptist Church.  The Democrat served 12 terms and became New Jersey’s first black congressional member when he was elected in 1988. He also served as a member of House committees on education, foreign affairs and a subcommittee on Africa.

U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder says the 77-year-old helped make it possible to have a black president and a black attorney general.

Gov. Chris Christie and the Rev. Al Sharpton are among many others who spoke at the service.

(Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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