In Tragedy, Elijah Cummings Dies At 68

"Very soon you and I will be dancing with the angels".

House Oversight chair Elijah Cummings died on Thursday morning at Gilchrist Hospice Care, a Johns Hopkins affiliate, at approximately 2:45 A.M.

His death is attributed to “complications concerning longstanding health challenges”. Cummings had recently undergone an unspecified medical procedure and hadn’t returned to his office this week.

He was 68.

The news will be received with an outpouring of grief on Capitol Hill and certainly in his district.

The congressman rose to national prominence for his response to the death of Freddie Gray which sparked the Baltimore riots and also for his rejoinders to Trey Gowdy during the Benghazi hearings. You can watch Cummings speak at Gray’s funeral here.

“It’s not about politics to him; he says what he believes”, Gowdy once told The Hill. “And you can tell the ones who are saying it because it was in a memo they got that morning, and you can tell the ones who it’s coming from their soul. And with Mr. Cummings, it’s coming from his soul”.

The Baltimore Sun on Thursday morning recapped Cummings’s political career:

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.

And here’s the Washington Post on his education:

The proprietor of a Baltimore drugstore where Mr. Cummings worked paid his application fee to Howard University and, during Mr. Cummings’s time as a Howard student, regularly sent him $10 with a note that read, “Hang in there.”

At Howard, he served as student government president, and he received a bachelor’s degree in political science in 1973. He received a law degree from the University of Maryland three years later and practiced law, mostly in private practice, for nearly two decades.

Cummings voted against the the Iraq war, arguing that there was not sufficient evidence of the presence of weapons of mass destruction. He also opposed the release of the Starr report.

According to his own account, he once went two winters with no heat during the 1990s when, due to financial problems incurred while supporting his children and attempting to preserve his legal practice while simultaneously running for Congress, he couldn’t afford to fix his furnace.

“I didn’t ask the federal government or anyone else to do me any favors”, he remarked of the period. Asked why, he said “I have a moral conscience”.

Cummings was a frequent target of Donald Trump. The Oversight committee is one of the trio of panels leading the impeachment probe. Trump sued Cummings in that capacity earlier this year when the committee sought documents from the president’s accountant.

In July, Trump embarked on an egregious smear campaign aimed at Cummings and Baltimore, a city the president maligned in a string of tweets and public comments that elicited condemnation from all corners. Among other things, Trump called the city a “rat and rodent-infested mess” after watching a Fox News segment aimed at Cummings. The president went on to suggest, among other things, that Cummings might be stealing money from the government and should be investigated.

Cummings attended Trump’s inauguration in an effort to show that he was willing to give the president a chance. Trump granted him an audience for a one-on-one but a single time.

“Mr. President, you’re now 70-something, I’m 60-something. Very soon you and I will be dancing with the angels”, Cummings told Trump. “The thing that you and I need to do is figure out what we can do — what present can we bring to generations unborn?”


3 comments on “In Tragedy, Elijah Cummings Dies At 68

  1. Dana Newman

    I grew up in small town in Kansas. Whenever anyone passed away in that area, everyone knew about it. As was expected, only family and friends attended the funeral.

    But the thing is: Whenever the hearse carrying the casket came down main street on its way to the final resting place, everyone who lived in town, and almost everyone who didn’t live in town made it a point to come into town – and everyone stood on each side of the street as the hearse passed – men took off their hats, and women and children all stood in reverence (and silence) until the hearse passed by.

    Yes, there were those who loved the deceased, many who had an axe to grind with them, and most were indifferent because they never really knew them – but at least everyone took the time to acknowledge the person’s life, even if it was only for a moment.

    Mr. Heisenberg – thank you, too, for taking the time.

  2. Pelosi had some very uplifting things to say a few moments ago……and now she is going right back to work on the new budget and a couple of trade agreements.

  3. vicissitude


    Carolyn Maloney to be acting chairwoman of Oversight panel as succession sorted out

    Maloney, a New York Democrat who also serves as the vice chairwoman of the Joint Economic Committee, had seniority over Cummings when Democrats took control of the House after the 2018 midterm elections.

    But Cummings’ extensive work on the Oversight panel and status as ranking member since 2010 — when he beat Maloney in a caucus-wide vote — gave him the inside track to take the gavel in January.

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