Democratic Rep. Elijah Cummings died on Thursday, he was 68-years-old. The representative from Baltimore was a sharecroppers’ son who fought for racial justice and in recent years took on the Trump administration,
Cummings died from what his office described as “complications concerning longstanding health challenges” around 2:30 a.m. at a hospice affiliated with Johns Hopkins Hospital.
Cummings had represented Maryland’s 7th Congressional District since 1996, and was at the center of the impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump in his role as House Oversight Committee chairman.
The representative last spoke on the House floor in late July before the House went on a six-week recess. For months, he had been seen moving around Capitol Hill on a motorized scooter. In 2017, he was sidelined for months following heart surgery and later told his staffers his recovery renewed his focus on the importance of his work.
Cummings was known for his soaring oratory, and said during the pivotal hearing in February focusing the president’s former lawyer and personal fixer, Michael Cohen, “When we’re dancing with the angels, the question we’ll be asked: In 2019, what did we do to make sure we kept our democracy intact? Did we stand on the sidelines and say nothing?”
He first climbed the ladder of political power in his native Baltimore, never moving away from the inner-city, and serving for 14 years in the Maryland House of Delegates and became the first African American in Maryland history to be named Speaker Pro Tem.
Cummings was one of seven children whose parents were South Carolina sharecroppers who moved north for better opportunities. The congressman credited his parents — both preachers — with instilling in him a moral code that led him into public service.
Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Fla., said in a statement, “When our nation can ill-afford to lose such a kind, principled leader, one of my dearest friends and mentors has left us. My heart is broken, as I weep personally and for his family and community.”
Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., tweeted, “My condolences to the family of Rep. Elijah Cummings of Maryland who went to be with the Lord early this morning at 68 years of age. May God grant his family strength & peace in these difficult moments & his soul eternal rest.”