The first African American woman to represent Illinois in Congress has died.
Cardiss Collins was first elected in 1973 during a special election to replace her husband, who had was killed in a plane accident in 1972.
Collins, a Democrat, was elected for 12 consecutive terms, representing Illinois’ 7th Congressional District from 1973 until 1997.
She was replaced by current U.S. Rep. Danny Davis.
Davis tells WGN-TV, Collins had been ill for some time.
She died over the weekend in a nursing home in Washington, D.C.
During her time in Congress, Collins focused on establishing universal health insurance, providing gender equity in college sports and reforming federal child care facilities. She was one of the country’s first political women’s rights advocates.
Cardiss Collins was 81-years old.