Celebration of life for the late Congressman Alcee Hastings this morning at U.S. Capitol

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Anthony Man, South Florida Sun Sentinel
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A celebration of life to honor the late U.S. Rep. Alcee Hastings is set to take place Wednesday morning at the U.S. Capitol.

The South Florida Democrat died April 6 at age 84, about two-and-a-half years after he was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. First elected in 1992, Hastings was the longest serving representative from Florida at the time of his death, making him dean of the state’s congressional delegation.

The event is being hosted by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and U.S. Rep. Joyce Beatty, chairwoman of the Congressional Black Caucus.

It will be held in Statuary Hall, a chamber that was used by the House of Representatives in the early 1800s.

Hastings moved to Fort Lauderdale in the early 1960s, where he worked as an attorney who crusaded against racial injustice. He later became a federal judge who was impeached and removed from office.

In Congress, he represented most of the African American and Caribbean American communities in Broward and Palm Beach counties, though the borders of his district changed somewhat over the years.

Hastings’ career was commemorated by current and former colleagues, including President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris.

“Across his long career of public service, Alcee always stood up to fight for equality, and always showed up for the working people he represented. And even in his final battle with cancer, he simply never gave up,” Biden said.

Harris said Hastings “welcomed me to the Congressional Black Caucus when I was still new to the Senate. He exuded the kind of warmth and good humor that not only put me at ease, but encouraged me to speak my mind.” (In 2019, he became the first elected official in Florida to endorse Harris for president. After Biden secured the presidential nomination, Hastings urged him to select her as his running mate.)

The late congressman didn’t want a funeral.

Because of social distancing rules necessitated by COVID-19, the gathering is being kept relatively small. It is scheduled to start at 10:30 a.m. and can be viewed on Pelosi’s Facebook page.

This is a developing story, so check back for updates.

Anthony Man can be reached at aman@sunsentinel.com or on Twitter @browardpolitics