10th Congressional district Congressman Donald Payne has died at the age of 77. Read the reaction from Trenton & Washington.

President Barack Obama

"In Washington, he made it his mission to fight for working families, increase the minimum wage, ensure worker safety, guarantee affordable health care and improve the educational system. He was a leader in US-Africa policy, making enormous contributions toward helping restore democracy and human rights across the continent."

Governor Chris Christie

"Mary Pat and I offer our condolences to the Payne family on the loss of Congressman Payne. He was a leader with great compassion for every person he had the honor of representing. He was a great role model for every person in New Jersey who aspires to public service. He was a true gentlemen and we considered him a friend."

The Governor is also preparing an Executive Order to have flags lowered in honor of Congressman Payne.


Newark Mayor Cory Booker:

"Newark, New Jersey, has lost a home-grown hero, a champion to s and people all over the globe. Congressman Donald M. Payne, Sr., lived a life of unyielding service to others. From being an educator, a leader in local government, and head of nonprofits to his eventual role on the national and global stage as New Jersey's first African-American Congressman, Donald Payne, Sr., was a defender of and advocate for the rights, liberties, equal opportunities, and dignity of all people.

We mourn the loss of one of Newark's greatest trailblazing leaders, and yet in this time of pain and grief, we also celebrate our humble hero, who lived an extraordinary life of contribution and distinction."

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi:

"Congressman Payne spoke out on behalf of suffering people in some of the most difficult situations around the world: from Rwanda to Sudan to the peace process in Northern Ireland. It was a personal privilege to travel with Congressman Payne to Darfur; he was a leader in bringing attention to the genocide there. He was an expert on the political, economic, and security situation throughout the continent of Africa."

Assemblyman John S. Wisniewski, Chairman of the New Jersey Democratic State Committee


"I am deeply saddened by the passing of Representative Donald Payne. New Jersey and America have lost a genuine pioneer. Donald Payne lived a life dedicated to his community and was a tireless voice for oppressed people throughout the world, regardless of rank. My thoughts and prayers are with his family and with the many people whose lives he touched and who are mourning his passing today.




Senate President Steve Sweeney


“From roots set firmly in Newark, Congressman Payne rose to not only be a leading Democratic voice in Washington, but a respected figure around the world. As New Jersey’s first African-American member of Congress, he opened a door to public service that will never be closed.

“More than anything, Rep. Payne’s dedication to education, especially for our urban youth, will stand as his lasting legacy. Countless kids in New Jersey and across the nation have brighter futures thanks to the Congressman’s unwavering support for their schools, for Head Start and for the Pell Grants that have put college within their reach.

“But even when his attention turned to the innocents caught in the crossfire in the war-town areas of our world, his heart was always with New Jersey and his hometown. He was a model for Congressional service: Always thinking globally, but acting locally.

“My deepest sympathies go out to the Payne family at this time. On behalf of my Senate colleagues, I thank them for sharing Donald with all of us, and the world.”

Senate Majority Leader Loretta Weinberg

"New Jersey and the Nation have lost a true leader whose life and work in service to others gained the admiration of everyone who knew him or knew of him. From the Newark classrooms where he taught to the halls of Congress he dedicated himself to improving the lives of the young, the needy and those suffering from injustice.

"As the first African-American to be elected to Congress from New Jersey and as chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus, Congressman Payne blazed a trail that will be traveled by others for generations to come. He fought to take down the barriers to progress that denied anyone their equal rights and he fought to give everyone the freedom and ability to realize their goals and aspirations.

"Congressman Payne was a man of quiet dignity, a selfless man who was fiercely committed to the most noble principles of public service. While we mourn his loss, his family, his friends, his colleagues and the people he served can take comfort in the knowledge that his achievements will live on in the history books and in our hearts."

Assembly Speaker Sheila Y. Oliver (D-Essex/Passaic)

“Today is a truly sad day for America and our great state.

“We have lost a trailblazer, and we have lost a friend.

“I have known Donald Payne for most of my life. He has always been a role model to me, and I will never forget his historic victory that made him New Jersey’s first African-American elected to Congress. His dedication to his constituent and all Americans was unwavering. He was a leader in every sense of the word.

“Congressman Payne’s work was exemplary in so many ways. He was a tireless advocate for public education and affordable college. He was a champion for working families. He was a defender of freedom and human rights. His work on global affairs was an example of his compassion.

“He was everything one would want from a Congressman, and then some.

“I will miss my Congressman and friend, as will all of New Jersey. On behalf of the New Jersey General Assembly, I send my condolences to Congressman Payne’s family. Our thoughts and prayers are with them at their time of grief.”

Senator and former Governor Richard J. Codey

“Today the world lost a true global citizen, New Jersey lost an honored favorite son, and many of us lost a dear friend.

“Donald Payne began his public service in the classrooms of Newark, and even as a leading member of Congress, never forgot where he came from. Improving the lives of Newark’s children, and ensuring that every child in every city is given the schooling and tools they need to succeed, drove his public life.

“When war threatened the lives of innocent people in far-flung parts of the globe, Donald was never silent. He was a crusader for human rights, and a believer in the dignity of every person regardless of their station in life. From the halls of Congress to the United Nations, his efforts to promote democracy and human rights were unequalled by many.

“He was larger than life, but never acted like it, and wherever there was oppression, he traveled there to help the oppressed. But even when work took him abroad, his heart was always in Essex County.

“The Payne family should rightly be proud of Donald’s life and achievements, as we all are. As they grieve his loss, so do all of us who proudly stood alongside him for so many years.

Congressman Steve Rothman (NJ-9)

Congressman Donald Payne was my friend. He was also a giant. History will record that Donald Payne saved

literally tens of thousands of lives in his work in the United States, Northern Ireland, and Africa over a lifetime of public service. In his long journey to become a congressman, he traveled many different paths as a father, husband, grandfather, great-grandfather, teacher, longshoreman, among a list too long to describe briefly.

He was a true pioneer and champion for civil and human rights here at home and around the world. And beneath his serious and strong, statesman’s demeanor was a warm, charming, funny, smart and great friend to so many. I will miss him deeply. My thoughts and prayers go out to his wonderful family.


Senate Republican Leader Tom Kean, Jr. (R- Union)

"Congressman Payne was not only a pioneer in New Jersey politics, he was a thoroughly decent man and public servant. I had the pleasure of getting to know Don through our shared representation of Millburn. He lent gravitas to every cause he championed, particularly his concern for the poor, disadvantaged, and oppressed the world over.

“His work on AIDS prevention and treatment in Africa will be an enduring example of the very best America has to offer as a leader in the world. New Jersey's divestiture of investments in the Sudan, legislation I was proud to sponsor with Assemblyman Bill Payne, was in part inspired by the Congressman's steadfast commitment to human rights.

"Rhonda and I send our deepest condolences to the Payne family."

Assembly Majority Leader Louis Greenwald (D)

“There really are no words to adequately describe the life and contributions of Congressman Donald Payne, but his legacy will tell the story. In the barriers he broke, the injustices he fought against, the lives he enriched, he was an inspiration to us all.

“His passing is a true loss but we are better as a state for his service. Every public servant would stand to benefit from following his lessons of civility and dignity.

“My thoughts and prayers go out to his entire family during this difficult time.”

Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Chairman Steve Israel

"With the passing of Congressman Donald Payne, we have lost a friend, a leader and a tireless advocate for the New Jersey families that he so ably represented.

“Congressman Payne dedicated nearly 25 years to service in this Congress after getting his start in local government. As a former chair of the Congressional Black Caucus, Congressman Payne brought a voice to Washington for those who too-often don’t have one, and as Chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation he’s helped countless young people through internships and fellowships where they learn the value of service.

“We have lost a powerful advocate for workforce protections and education investments here at home, and a senior leader in the global fight for human rights. Congressman Payne has been the conscience of this Congress on everything from the genocide in Darfur to the Malaria Caucus that he founded.

“On behalf of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, I extend my deepest condolences to Congressman Payne’s children, grand children, his great grandchild and his constituents in New Jersey’s 10th Congressional District. I hope it is of some comfort that the thoughts and prayers of so many are with them at this difficult time."