|Member of the U.S. House of Representatives|
from New Jersey's 10th district
January 3, 1989 - March 6, 2012
|Donald Payne Jr.|
Donald Milford Payne
July 16, 1934
Newark, New Jersey, U.S.
|Died||March 6, 2012 (aged 77)|
Livingston, New Jersey, U.S.
(m. 1958; her death 1963)
|Education||Seton Hall University (BA)|
Springfield College, Massachusetts
Donald Milford Payne (July 16, 1934 - March 6, 2012) was an American politician who was the U.S. Representative for New Jersey's 10th congressional district from 1989 to 2012. 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.
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 1978, Payne ran against, and came in third to, Peter Shapiro in the June primary selecting the Democratic candidate for the first Essex County Executive, with Sheriff John F. Cryan coming in second.
In 1982, he was elected to the Newark Municipal Council and served three terms, resigning in 1988 shortly after his election to Congress.
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, the real contest in this heavily Democratic, black-majority district. He was re-elected eleven times with no substantive opposition, never dropping below 75% of the vote.
In the 2002 general election, Payne was reelected with 84.5% of the vote, receiving a higher margin of the vote than in any other New Jersey Congressional race run that year. In 2004, the Republicans didn't even put up a candidate, and Payne was reelected with 97% of the vote, against Green Party candidate Toy-Ling Washington and Socialist Workers Party candidate Sara J. Lobman. In 2006, Payne was unopposed in the primary and general elections. In 2008, he won 99% of the vote against Green candidate Michael Taber. In 2010, Payne defeated little-known candidate Micheal Alonso.
|1988||Donald M. Payne||84,681||Michael Webb||13,848|
|1980||Peter W. Rodino||26,943|
|1980||Donald M. Payne||9,825|
|1980||Golden E. Johnson||5,316|
|1980||Russell E. Fox||1,251|
|1986||Peter W. Rodino||25,136|
|1986||Donald M. Payne||15,216|
|1986||Arthur S. Jones||931|
|1988||Donald M. Payne||40,608|
|1988||Ralph T. Grant Jr.||14,908|
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Payne's voting record was considered to have been the most consistently progressive of all New Jersey Congressmen at the time of his death. He was pro-choice and against the death penalty. He was 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 was active on issues relating to Africa, particularly regarding the conflict in the Darfur region of Sudan and the Western Sahara conflict.
As a leading advocate of education, Payne was 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 was also a member of the U.S. House Committee on Foreign Affairs, where he served 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 was 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 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.
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 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.
Payne 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 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.
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On April 13, 2009, Payne's plane was departing from Mogadishu, Somalia, when Somali fighters fired mortars at the airport. Payne was unhurt, as his plane was already bound for Kenya. The attack came just one day after Captain Richard Phillips was rescued from Somali pirates after their failed hijacking of the MV Maersk Alabama. Payne stated that his party on the plane did not know the airport was attacked until after they arrived in Kenya
Several other of Payne's family members have held or currently hold public office. His son, Donald M. Payne Jr., was president of the Municipal Council of Newark and an Essex County Freeholder-At-Large, and was elected to fill his father's seat in Congress on November 6, 2012. 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 was 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, because he was "gravely ill". Payne died four days later, aged 77.
Payne was succeeded in Congress by his son, Donald Payne Jr.