AAI mourns the loss of yet another giant: The Honorable Donald M. Payne (D-NJ, 10th), Member of the United States House of Representatives, New Jersey’s first African-American Congressman, and someone who did so much for so many people in the United States and on the continent of Africa. He was an extraordinarily focused, steadfast and effective advocate of Africa and mutually beneficial US-Africa relations—and to anyone fortunate enough to know him, a wonderful human being.
In addition to his more publicized acts of statesmanship, Congressman Payne worked continuously behind the scenes to promote worthy Africa-related causes aimed at providing a better life for poor people who lack security, food, water, shelter, education opportunities, productive employment, and a host of other advantages that many of us take for granted.
The impact of his loss is incalculable: regardless of political affiliation, his colleagues on Capitol Hill deferred to his Africa expertise, and his track record of support for path breaking legislative initiatives such as the Africa Growth and Opportunity Act, is unsurpassed.
We owe a special debt of gratitude to Congressman Payne as the longest serving—and consistently devoted—co-chair of the AAI Africa Thursday Congressional Seminar Series forum that brought together Members of Congress, their staff, Administration officials and representatives of Africa-focused private sector business and NGOs to engage in in-depth discussion and debate of major Africa policy-related issues. Congressman Payne was also the lead sponsor of the 2005 Congressional Resolution paying tribute to the Africa-America Institute (AAI) for “more than 50 years of dedicated service toward nurturing and unleashing the productive capacities of knowledgeable, capable, and effective African leaders through education.
In 2004 he gave AAI the great honor of accepting the 2004 AAI Award of Special Recognition for Promoting Positive US-Africa Relations.
We at AAI are inspired by the life and legacy of Congressman Donald Payne to redouble our commitment and work harder toward achieving our education mission.