UNION, NJ – A dedication ceremony of the Vauxhall Meeting Center, home of the Vauxhall Historical Society, was held on Saturday morning honoring the late Congressman Donald M. Payne Sr.
“The congressman’s presence is one that could be felt locally, nationally and even internationally,” said Union Mayor Suzette Cavadas. “He was a champion for education and civil rights who sought to combat injustice all over the world.” Cavadas said Payne was personally invested in the completion of the Franklin Street flood wall in Vauxhall.
Congressman Payne’s brother, former Assemblyman William Payne spoke about his brother, and said even when young Donald was the quiet diplomat. “I’d make things rough,” said Bill, “and he would come by and smooth things over and get things accomplished.”
“Donald was a prince of a man,” said Bill. “I want to thank you for recognizing my brother. This is a wonderful display and remembrance.”
“On behalf of the family,” said the Congressman’s sister Wanda Payne, “thank you very much. Every time someone does something to keep his memory alive is very touching. He would be very humbled and honored.”
“It’s a real honor and privilege to be here with all of you here today in Vauxhall,” said Congressman Payne. “My father loved people. He cared genuinely about people. He was a true public servant.”
“This is such an honor – that a community would think that much of my father,” said Payne. “This community meant a lot to him because he knew it was filled with a lot of strong families raising their family in a wonderful community of African American people. He thought that was special. He really appreciated Vauxhall.”
Donald M. Payne Sr., 1934-2012, was a native of Newark. He received a Bachelor of Arts degree from Seton Hall University and pursued graduate studies at Springfield College in Massachusetts. Payne was elected to serve in the 10th Congressional District in 1988. He played an active role in both domestic and foreign policy matters. Congressman Payne was former chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus. He also served as a member of the House Democratic Leadership Advisory Board.
Jonny Rosser from the Vauxhall Historical Society described Congressman Donald M. Payne's accomplishments throughout his career and discussed the history of Vauxhall.