Funeral service Friday for Rep. Elijah E. Cummings of Maryland

Free Press wire reports | 10/25/2019, 6 a.m.
Tributes continue to pour in for Congressman Elijah E. Cummings of Maryland, a moral voice of conscience who fought for ...
Rep. Elijah E. Cummings Patrick Semansky

Tributes continue to pour in for Congressman Elijah E. Cummings of Maryland, a moral voice of conscience who fought for civil rights and took on the White House as a prominent figure in the impeachment inquiry of President Trump as chairman of the powerful House Oversight and Reform Committee.

Rep. Cummings, a Democrat who has represented the Baltimore area in Congress since 1996, died Thursday, Oct. 17, 2019, after complications from long-standing health problems. He was 68.

In tribute, Rep. Cummings body will lie in state Thursday, Oct. 24, in the U.S. Capitol’s National Statuary Hall, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced.

Lawmakers from both political parties are to speak at a formal ceremony there Thursday morning that is open to members of Congress, the Cummings family and invited guests, followed by a public viewing. Speakers will include House Speaker Pelosi, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, a Democrat from Maryland; Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, a Republican from Kentucky; and Rep. Mark Meadows, a Republican from North Carolina.

A wake and funeral is planned for Friday, Oct. 25, at New Psalmist Baptist Church in Baltimore, where Rep. Cummings worshipped for nearly four decades.

Born to a family of Southern sharecroppers, Rep. Cummings was a formidable orator who advocated for the poor in his black-majority district of Baltimore.

“He was a political warrior — from his time serving in the Maryland General Assembly, as chair of the Congressional Black Caucus, to his ascension as chairman of the House Oversight and Reform Committee,” said Dr. Oliver Brooks, president of the National Medical Association that represents the nation’s African-American physicians.

“Congressman Cummings worked tirelessly to eliminate health disparities and advance policies to expand access to affordable and quality health care,” Dr. Brooks continued. “He was a lion with a gentle heart, dedicated to protecting the rights of the underserved and his constituents.”

In a testament to Rep. Cummings’ ability to forge friendships across the aisle during a time of intense political polarization, tributes poured in from across the political spectrum.

President Trump tweeted his condolences to the Cummings family and many friends.

“I got to see firsthand the strength, passion and wisdom of this highly respected political leader,” the president’s tweet stated.

He also ordered flags at the White House and other federal buildings to be flown at half-staff through Friday to honor Rep. Cummings.

Earlier this year, Rep. Cummings defended his city against President Trump, who criticized the Democrat’s district as a “rodent-infested mess” where “no human being would want to live.” Rep. Cummings replied that government officials must stop making “hateful, incendiary comments” that distract the nation from its real problems, including mass shootings and white supremacy.

“Those in the highest levels of the government must stop invoking fear, using racist language and encouraging reprehensible behavior,” Rep. Cummings said.

As chairman of the House Oversight and Reform Committee, a role he took on in January when he and his fellow Democrats took majority control of the U.S. House of Representatives, he led investigations into President Trump’s personal finances and possible abuses at federal agencies, including probes in 2019 relating to Trump family members serving in the White House.