CORAL SPRINGS, FL – U.S. Congressman Alcee Hastings was a giant in the Black Broward political world.

Elected to Congress 15 times in a row meant that he became a mentor to many young men and women as they pursued their own political careers in Broward. Even before he became the first Black person to be sent to congress from Florida since Reconstruction, he was also the first Black federal judge in Florida.

Alcee Hastings was a legendary figure, and as I sought my own public office in Coral Springs, the congressman was someone I sought out to gain knowledge and advice from.

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Although he stood to gain nothing from my election, he understood the value of passing on his knowledge to the younger generation. He supported me during my election and even hosted a fundraiser for me in Fort Lauderdale. If I needed to have a quick conversation with him, he was only a phone call away. I appreciated the time he gave to me, especially when you understood the various roles and responsibilities he had.

Congressman Hastings passing is a loss that has reverberated around the country.

He touched and influenced so many lives that it is hard to process that we will no longer hear his southern drawl and commanding presence. I was one of the many lives he impacted and his legacy will continue on for decades. I remember every conversation we had and the jokes he told. He was his own man and made his own way, and I think that type of example is a great one to follow.

Although I didn't get to know him as long as many others, I will forever be grateful to Congressman Hastings for making time to help me navigate the world of politics.

(Editor’s note: Hastings died on April 6 after being diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in 2019.)

Joshua A. Simmons is the vice mayor of Coral Springs.


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