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.
"During her more than two decades in the Congress Jet Magazine hailed her as a trailblazer," Rep. Danny Davis, who succeeded Collins in 1996, said in a statement. "Cardiss Collins was a serious advocate for women and working people."
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. She chaired the Government Activities and Transportation Sub-Committee.
Cardiss Collins last ran for office in 1994, when she was re-elected with 79 percent of the vote.