Civil Rights Activist and U.S. Rep. Elijah Cummings of Baltimore Passes Away at 68

U.S. Rep. Elijah Cummings in Voting Rights Hearings, Feb 2019

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Elijah Cummings, US House Congressman since 1996, has died after a long battle with health problems. He was 68 years old

He was born in 1951 and was raised and continued to live in Baltimore. He was the third of seven children of Robert Cummings Sr. and Ruth Elma Cummings, née Cochran, who were sharecroppers on land where their ancestors were enslaved, before moving to Baltimore in the late 1940s.

As a child, the struggling Cummings was assigned to special education courses, but later showed promise in high school at City College.  He went on to win Phi Beta Kappa honors at Howard University in Washington, where 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. He became a trial attorney. 

Elijah Cummings was the first African American to become a speaker of the Maryland General Assembly, in 1982. He served for 14 years in the Maryland Assembly before deciding to run for Maryland’s 7th congressional district in the U.S. House after Rep. Kweisi Mfume resigned to become the head of the NAACP. Cummings served as a congressman since 1996, until his death. He was known for his devotion to his native city of Baltimore and  to civil rights and for directly pushing for bold legislations to that end, including  voting rights and other rights for minorities in the US. 

Cummings was an active member of New Psalmist Baptist Church. A father of 3 children, he was married to Maya Rockeymoore Cummings, who was elected chair of the Maryland Democratic Party in December 2018.

On Twitter, US President Donald Trump said:

"I got to see first hand the strength, passion and wisdom of this highly respected political leader. His work and voice on so many fronts will be very hard, if not impossible, to replace!"

 Former US President Barack Obama said, in a statement:

"Steely yet compassionate, principled yet open to new perspectives, Chairman Cummings remained steadfast in his pursuit of truth, justice, and reconciliation. It's a tribute to his native Baltimore that one of its own brought such character, tact, and resolve into the halls of power every day."