Donald M. Payne: Wikis


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Donald M. Payne

Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from New Jersey's 10th district
Assumed office 
January 3, 1989
Preceded by Peter Rodino

Born July 16, 1934 (1934-07-16) (age 75)
Newark, New Jersey
Political party Democratic
Spouse(s) Widowed
Residence Newark, New Jersey
Alma mater Seton Hall University
Springfield College
Occupation financial executive
Religion Baptist

Donald Milford "Don" Payne (b. July 16, 1934, Newark, New Jersey) is an American Democratic Party politician from New Jersey who represents the state's 10th Congressional district[1] in the United States House of Representatives, which encompasses most of the city of Newark, parts of Jersey City and Elizabeth, and some suburban communities in Essex and Union counties. He is the first African American to represent New Jersey in Congress.[2]


Early life

Payne was born in Newark and was a 1952 graduate of Barringer High School. He did his undergraduate studies at Seton Hall University. 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 was a teacher in the Newark Public Schools.[3] In 1970, Payne became the first black president of the National Council of YMCAs.[4] From 1973 to 1981 he was Chairman of the World Y.M.C.A. Refugee and Rehabilitation Committee.[5]

His political career began in 1972, when he was elected to the Essex County Board of Chosen Freeholders, serving three terms. 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 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, which was tantamount to election in this heavily Democratic, black-majority district. He has been reelected nine times with no substantive opposition, never dropping below 75 percent of the vote. He last faced a Republican opponent in 2000.

In 2002, Payne ran against no Republican opponent gaining 84.5% of the vote, winning the highest margin of the vote than in any other New Jersey Congressional race. In the 2004 Congressional race the Republicans again had no candidate on the ballot and Payne easily won, with 97% of the vote, against Green Party candidate ([4]) Toy-Ling Washington and Socialist Workers Party candidate Sara J. Lobman. In 2006, Payne was completely unopposed in the primary and general elections. In 2008, he won 98.9 percent of the vote against Green candidate Michael Taber.

Payne's voting record is considered to be the most consistently liberal of all New Jersey Congressmen. He is pro-choice and against the death penalty. He is 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 has been active in issues relating to Africa, particularly that of the current conflict in the Darfur region of Sudan.

Payne is a member of the United States House Committee on Education and Labor, where he serves on the Workforce Protections and Early Childhood, Elementary and Secondary Education subcommittees. As a leading advocate of education, he has been 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 is also a member of the U.S. House Committee on Foreign Affairs, where he serves 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 has been 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 Rodham Clinton on their historic six-nation tour of Africa. He also headed a Presidential mission to war-torn Rwanda [6] 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.

On June 22, 2001 Payne was arrested after protesting against the Sudanese government at its Embassy in Washington, D.C..[7] He is a supporter and has endorsed the Genocide Intervention Network.

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 has 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.

He was one of the 31 who voted in the House to not count the electoral votes from Ohio in the United States presidential election, 2004.[8]

Payne received an "A" on the liberal Drum Major Institute's 2005 Congressional Scorecard on middle-class issues[9]

Payne has 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 has 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.

He supported Senator Barack Obama in his bid for the Democratic presidential nomination after originally supporting Hillary Clinton.


Attack in Somalia

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 comes 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[10][11][12]

Congressional committee assignments


Donald Payne's brother, William D. Payne, served in the New Jersey General Assembly representing the 29th legislative district of New Jersey, his nephew, Craig A. Stanley, served in the General Assembly representing the 28th legislative district, and his son, Donald M. Payne, Jr., serves as a councilman in the Newark City Council and as Essex County Freeholder-At-Large as well.


  1. ^ [1]. Map
  2. ^ May, Clifford D. "After 40 Years Making the Law, Rodino Now Teaches It", The New York Times, January 27, 1989. Accessed December 12, 2007. "Peter Rodino is one of my heroes, said Representative Donald Payne, who this month succeeded Mr. Rodino and became the first black Congressman from New Jersey."
  3. ^ Congressional biography of Donald Milford Payne, Jr., United States Congress. Accessed June 8, 2007.
  4. ^ Milestones In the History of African Americans and the YMCA. Accessed December 13, 2007
  5. ^ Sullivan, Joseph F. “2 Vie to Be First Jersey Black in Congress", “The New York Times”, November 10, 1988. Accessed December 13, 2007. "He was elected president of the National Council of Y.M.C.A.'s in 1970. From 1973 to 1981 he was chairman of the World Y.M.C.A. Refugee and Rehabilitation Committee."
  6. ^ [2] U.S. Gets a Warning on Burundi Situation. Accessed December 13, 2007. “
  7. ^ [3] Congressman Donald Payne Arrested Protesting Tragedy in Sudan.
  8. ^ Final Vote Results for Roll Call 7, Clerk of the United States House of Representatives, January 6, 2005. Accessed June 26, 2007.
  9. ^ Congress at the Midterm: Their 2005 Middle-Class Record, Drum Major Institute. Accessed June 26, 2007.
  10. ^
  11. ^
  12. ^

External links

United States House of Representatives
Preceded by
Peter W. Rodino
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from New Jersey's 10th congressional district

Succeeded by


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