(NEWARK) — Assemblyman Albert Coutinho (D-Essex) released the following statement Tuesday on the passing of U.S. Representative Donald M. Payne:
“Today, our spirits are all a little poorer and the world seems a little less bright as we mourn the passing of an incredible human being and a fantastic, life-long public servant, Rep. Donald Payne.
“He was a piece of living history, breaking down barriers and challenging preconceived prejudices to become New Jersey’s first African American congressman. And he was a true champion for those of us with the smallest voice: the poor, the disenfranchised, the persecuted, whether they were from New Jersey or the farthest flung corners of the world.
“Congressman Payne was also that rare breed of gentleman politician who could fight passionately and fiercely for his beliefs while still carrying himself with quiet dignity and grace and extending that same dignity and grace to both his allies and his opposition.
“I thank him for his lifelong commitment to public service, the pathways he blazed and the millions of lives he touched throughout his long career.
I offer my deepest condolences to the entire Payne family during this troubling time and offer them the small solace that, while Donald may be gone, his legacy will live on and history will remember his life favorably, which is all any of us can ask for.
“May Donald Payne rest in peace and his spirit never be forgotten.”