Former Congresswoman Cardiss Collins Dead at 81

CHICAGO (AP) -- Cardiss Collins, the first African-American woman to represent Illinois in Congress, has died at age 81.

Family friend Mel Blackwell says Collins died of complications from pneumonia Sunday evening at a hospital in Alexandria, Va.

Collins originally was elected to fill the seat left vacant when her husband, Congressman George W. Collins, was killed in a 1972 airplane crash. George Collins represented what was then the 7th District in Chicago.

Cardiss Collins last ran for office in 1994, when she was re-elected with 79 percent of the vote.

U.S. Rep. Danny Davis succeeded Collins in 1996. He says during her more than 22 years in Congress, Collins led efforts to curtail credit fraud against women and advocated gender equity in college sports. She chaired the Government Activities and Transportation Sub-Committee.

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