Alcee Hastings, a civil rights lawyer, congressman and former federal judge, passed away on Tuesday 6th April at the age of 84. Two years prior, he had been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer.
Shortly after Hastings had received his law degree from Florida A&M University, he set up a private law practice with W. George Allen in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Their law practice mainly represented civil rights cases. In 1970, Hastings ran for U.S. Senate, but was not successful.
In 1977, Hastings was appointed by Governor Reubin Askew for the position of Broward Circuit Court judge. In 1979, he was nominated by President Jimmy Carter to the U.S. District Court, becoming the first African-American Federal Judge in Florida.
In 1981, Hastings was charged with conspiracy and obstruction of justice by soliciting a $150,00 bribe in exchange for reducing the sentence of two felons that were tried in his court. He was found not guilty by a jury in 1983. In 1986, new evidence came to light and Hastings was found guilty, impeached and removed from office.
Three years later, Hastings was elected to Congress and was one of three African Americans who were elected to Congress that year. Hastings became known for advocating for minority groups, LGBT issues and women’s rights.