Congressman Alcee L. Hastings was the first African-American from Florida since the post-Civil War era to be elected to the United States Congress. Throughout his lifetime, he has championed the rights of minorities, women, the elderly, children, and immigrants. Born in Altamonte Springs, Florida, he attended Florida's public school system and graduated from Fisk University in 1958. He then earned his law degree from Florida A&M University in Tallahassee.
Hastings, also known to many as "Judge," distinguished himself as an attorney and civil rights activist. In 1979, he became the first African-American Federal Judge in the State of Florida when President Jimmy Carter appointed him to the bench. He served in that position for 10 years.
In 1992, Hastings was elected to serve in the United States House of Representatives. Since his election, he has been an outspoken leader for making our country safer and more secure. He has worked to protect the rights of voters; create tax incentives for small businesses; expand the Earned Income Tax Credit; provide job training for displaced workers; ban assault weapons; fund Head Start and other education programs; strengthen Social Security; advocate for environmental justice; and provide family and medical leave to all workers.
Hastings has also distinguished himself on the world stage and has become one of the most respected voices in international affairs. He is known throughout the world as an expert in foreign policy and has introduced legislation advocating diplomacy before military action. In 2007, Hastings became the first African-American to chair the Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe (the Helsinki Commission). This independent U.S. government agency was created in 1976 to monitor and encourage compliance with the landmark human rights and democracy-building treaty signed in Finland the previous year. As the Ranking Democratic Member of the Helsinki Commission, Hastings has continued his work in the areas of human rights, economic development, and parliamentary diplomacy.
Hastings serves as a senior member on the powerful House Rules Committee and the Ranking Member of the Subcommittee on Legislative and Budget Process, which is responsible for matters associated with the inter-branch relations of Congress and the Executive. Furthermore, he is the former Vice Chairman of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence (HPSCI).
Hastings also serves as the Co-Chairman of the House Democratic Caucus’ Jobs Task Force and as a Senior Democratic Whip. He has become an influential member of the House Democratic Leadership and serves as the Democratic Chairman of the Florida delegation.
Hastings is the proud recipient of numerous honors and awards bestowed on him from organizations both at home and abroad. His governing philosophy is simple: he firmly believes that progress and change can be achieved through mutual respect and understanding, and that individuals and communities can see beyond the limits of parochialism, enabling them to better appreciate each other.