We lost a true public servant this week with the death of Congressman Elijah Cummings.😢😢
By JEFF BARKER
BALTIMORE SUN |
OCT 17, 2019 | 9:07 AM
U.S. Rep. Elijah Cummings of Baltimore, a committee chairman known for his devotion to Baltimore and civil rights and for blunt and passionate speechmaking, died of longstanding health problems early Thursday morning, his office said. He was 68 years old.
The Democrat, a key figure in the impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump as chairman of the House Oversight and Reform Committee, died at Gilchrist Hospice Care at approximately 2:45 A.M., a spokeswoman said.
Cummings, who had been absent from Capitol Hill in recent weeks while under medical attention, had health issues in recent years. In 2017, he underwent an aortic valve replacement. The procedure, which aides described as minimally invasive in Cummings’ case, is used to correct narrowing of the aortic valve in the heart. The surgery led to an infection that kept him in the hospital longer than expected. He was later hospitalized for a knee infection, but he said this summer that his health was fine.
A former Maryland state delegate and trial attorney, Cummings became a national figure in 2019 as chairman of the committee. With Democrats assuming the House majority after the 2018 elections, he won the ability to demand documents related to Trump’s personal finances and policies, as well as possible abuses at federal agencies in the Trump administration.
Pundits had speculated before the change of power in the House that Cummings, who could be boisterous in his questioning of witnesses, might become a “nightmare” for Trump, a Republican.
“Are we going to be the nightmare? It’s in the eyes of the beholder,” he told The Baltimore Sun before ascending to the chairmanship.
Cummings was born in 1951 and raised in Baltimore, where he continued to live.
He was one of seven children of Robert Cummings Sr. and Ruth Elma Cummings, née Cochran, who were sharecroppers on land where their ancestors were enslaved. The couple moved to Baltimore in the late 1940s.
As a child, Cummings struggled in elementary school and was assigned to special education courses. However, after showing promise in high school at City College, he won Phi Beta Kappa honors at Howard University in Washington. He earned a bachelor’s degree in political science. He graduated from the University of Maryland School of Law and passed the state bar in 1976.
After graduating from law school, Cummings joined a small Baltimore law firm and later set up his own practice, pooling expenses with two other lawyers. He soon transitioned to his second aspiration as a public servant. His longtime mentor is Larry Gibson, the Baltimore attorney and author who was active in the 1960s civil rights movement.
In 1982, with the support of several established city officials, Cummings ran for state delegate and won. He served in the Maryland General Assembly for 14 years and became the first African American in Maryland history to be named speaker pro tem.
In late 1995, Cummings decided to run for Maryland’s 7th congressional district in the U.S. House after Rep. Kweisi Mfume announced he would resign to become the head of the NAACP. Cummings served as a congressman since 1996.
Cummings was an active member of New Psalmist Baptist Church — he was there habitually for an early service — and was married to Maya Rockeymoore Cummings, who was elected chair of the Maryland Democratic Party in December 2018.
“It’s been an honor to walk by his side on this incredible journey,” his wife said in a statement. “I loved him deeply and will miss him dearly.”
Charlie Pierce on Congressman Cummings
Gennette Cordova (@GNCordova) Tweeted:
I just learned that Elijah Cummings was put in special education until a teacher realized that he was just overly inquisitive, not mischievous. This still happens to Black children, all too often, throughout country. https://twitter.com/GNCordova/status/1184914037403860992?s=17
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