After a long and distinguished career in politics, Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-MD) has passed away at the age of 68. The lawmaker’s office announced that he died at Johns Hopkins Hospital at 2:45 a.m. from “complications concerning longstanding health challenges.” The representative and civil rights icon served in the US House since 1996 and will be remembered for his many accomplishments as a lawyer and congressman.
Sen. Elijah Cumming’s Legacy
The Baltimore Sun reported that the lawmaker, who also headed the House Oversight and Reform Committee, had not returned to his position after undergoing a medical procedure that should have only kept him away from his duties for a week. Maya Rockeymoore Cummings, chairwoman of the Maryland Democratic Party and the representative’s wife, issued a statement saying that he was “an honorable man who proudly served his district and the nation with dignity, integrity, compassion, and humility.
Many of Cummings’ colleagues extolled him upon learning of his death. “He was not just a great congressman; he was a great man,” House Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) told MSNBC.
Baltimore Mayor Bernard C. Young released a statement saying that “people throughout the world have lost a powerful voice and one of the strongest and most gifted crusaders for social justice.”
Cummings led a rather storied life. While in grade school, a counselor told him that he would never become an attorney because he was slow to learn and spoke poorly. “I was devastated,” he told The Associated Press in 1996. “My whole life changes. I became very determined.”
The representative’s determination paid off. Not only did he become a successful attorney, but, before being elected to the US House in 1996, he served in Maryland’s House of Delegates. Cummings grew up during the Civil Rights era. Even when he was young, he was involved in the effort to integrate his neighborhood.
“We were trying to integrate an Olympic-size pool near my house, and we had been constrained to a wading pool in the black community,” he said in an appearance on ABC’s This Week earlier this month. “As we tried to march to that pool over six days, I was beaten, all kinds of rocks and bottles thrown at me.”
Despite Cummings’ tragic death, the establishment media couldn’t wait to use this story as a weapon to score cheap political points against President Donald Trump. In various articles, Yahoo! News, CNN, and The Baltimore Sun took the opportunity to remind readers of the president’s feud with the representative. Several other outlets brought up Trump’s comments about poverty-stricken areas of Baltimore.
Several other journalists also used the representative’s death to lash out at the president. Molly Jong-Fast tweeted: “I wonder what terrible tone deaf thing Trump will tweet as a ‘condolence’ for the death of civil rights legend Elijah Cummings?”
Raw Story’s Matthew Chapman expressed a similar sentiment: “Just this once. Just this once, can Trump try not to make it about himself when he tweets about Elijah Cummings?”
Manu Raju, CNN’s senior congressional correspondent, posted his thoughts as well: “Despite Trump’s attacks against him, Elijah Cummings had deep friendships and respect across the aisle in the Capitol – something not common today for a person holding a prominent position like he did. He was close to Mark Meadows but also other GOP lawmakers as well”
To his credit, Spectrum News Anchor Solomon Syed criticized the media for publishing headlines highlighting Cummings’ role in the impeachment investigations: “Agree or disagree with him, Elijah Cummings did so much more over his career than just ‘investigate Trump’ that frankly this headline is borderline insulting. Prayers to his family, loved ones and his constituents.”
Much to the likely disappointment of some on the left, President Trump chimed in with his condolences on Twitter: “My warmest condolences to the family and many friends of Congressman Elijah Cummings. 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!”
Trump’s comments echo those of many others on both the left and the right regarding Rep. Cummings. Despite political differences and agreements, most can acknowledge his accomplishments and his dedication to his service. If their comments are any indication, he will be missed.