BALTIMORE – Maryland Rep. Elijah E. Cummings died early Thursday at Johns Hopkins Hospital of complications from longstanding health challenges, his congressional office said. He was 68.
A sharecropper’s son, Cummings became the powerful chairman of a U.S. House committee that investigated President Donald Trump, and was a formidable orator who passionately advocated for the poor in his black-majority district, which encompasses a large portion of Baltimore as well as more well-to-do suburbs.
As chairman of the House Oversight and Reform Committee, Cummings led multiple investigations of the president’s governmental dealings, including probes in 2019 relating to the president’s family members serving in the White House.
In 2015, Cummings made headlines following the death of 25-year-old Freddie Gray. Tearing up on a CNN interview with New Day, he said “ They feel as though nobody hears them,” referring to protestors who held demonstrations after Gray’s polarizing murder. “And I think we’re finally getting to hear them, but I’m telling you, Baltimore can happen anywhere.”
“You’ve got people looking at us right now saying, ‘That will never happen in my community.’ But yes, it will,” Cummings tearfully insisted. “But you’ve got to have people that listen, and you’ve got to begin to act on it.”
White House correspondent and CNN political analyst April Ryan called into Early Start to add that the man who was beloved on both sides of the aisle was a friend to many in Washington. She admitted that the news of Cummings passing came as a shock to her. “I literally opened my eyes this morning and just screamed,” Ryan said before disclosing that Cummings has had multiple complications from a heart issue.
“I was looking for him the week of CBC and he took ill again around that time. We haven’t really seen him since.”
Ryan added that many of his friends were “quietly concerned” about the 68-year-old because he wasn’t as visible in the community and he was declining engagements, but she ran into someone “very close” to the Congressman last week and they told her that he was starting to “sound like himself again.” That he was “on the mend.”
“It’s a shock for Baltimore. I am in shock.” Ryan concluded.
The political legend leaves behind his wife Maya Rockeymoore Cummings and three children.