Cummings died on Thursday due to “complications concerning longstanding health challenges” his office said.
Cummings, a son of sharecropper represented Maryland’s 7th Congressional District since 1996 and was heavily involved with the Trump impeachment inquiry.
As chairman of the House Oversight and Reform Committee, he instigated several investigations into the Trump administration, including probes in 2019 relating to Trump’s family members serving while in the White House.
Cummings began his political career decades ago in Maryland, rising through the ranks of the Maryland House of Delegates. He won his congressional seat in a special election in 1996, replacing former Rep. Kweisi Mfume.
“After coming from the state where you had a lot of people working together, it’s clear that the lines are drawn here,” Cummings said about a month after entering office in Washington in 1996.
Nonetheless, he continued to blossom in Congress, becoming the senior Democrat on Benghazi Committee.
Cummings deployed his fiery voice throughout his career to fight injustices, struggles and the needs of the inner-city dwellers.
“Discrimination is a blight– cancer that kills. It may not end a physical existence but it can destroy the meaningful lives of its victims. If you deprive a human being of a single breath, the damage is not great.
Stop a person from breathing for two minutes, and there will still be life, though it may be painful. If the time climbs to ten minutes, the victim dies. Although discrimination is not ordinarily a physical attack, it is no less destructive to a joyous and meaningful life than cancer or a chokehold,” Cummings said in one of his speeches on October 15, 1985.
He believed that discrimination takes away a vital part of life and that the opportunity to exercise individual power is vital not only for each person involved but also for the community as a whole.
“The power of a community or a nation is derived from the power possessed by its citizens. Discrimination prevents an individual from exercising power and robs the community of the energy which would be created by that individual choice,” he said.
Congressman Elijah E. Cumming was born and raised in Baltimore, Maryland, where he resided until his passing Thursday.
A son of a sharecropper, he obtained his Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science from Howard University, serving as Student Government President and graduating Phi Beta Kappa, and then graduated from the University of Maryland School of Law.
Cummings received 13 honorary doctoral degrees from universities throughout the nation.
He began his career of public service in the Maryland House of Delegates, where he served for 14 years and became the first African American in Maryland history to be named Speaker Pro Tem.
Cummings currently was the Chairman of the Committee on Oversight and Reform with jurisdiction to investigate any federal program and any matter with federal policy implications. As the Committee’s Chairman, Cummings fought to hold the Presidential Administration to a high standard of excellence and to ensure efficiency and effectiveness in the actions of the government of the United States—a task that got him clashing with President Trump.
He was also a senior member of the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, serving on both the Subcommittee on Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation and the Subcommittee on Railroads, Pipelines, and Hazardous Materials.
Cummings was an active member of New Psalmist Baptist Church and was married to Dr. Maya Rockeymoore Cummings.