Esteemed Democratic congressman from Maryland Elijah E. Cummings, who was well-known for his devotion to civil rights activism and the city of Baltimore, died early Thursday morning. He was 68.
Prior to his death from longstanding health problems at approximately 2:45 a.m., Cummings, who was chairman of the House Oversight and Reform Committee, served as a key figure in the impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump.
As news of his death spread on Thursday, many shared snaps from his life that help to tell his story. Here are five things to know about his life.
He was a man of faith
Cummings, who was a member of the New Psalmist Baptist Church in Baltimore, was proud of his Christian faith and never shied away from sharing it.
“This morning I am worshiping at my church, New Psalmist Baptist Church. After a very challenging week, I am glad to be around people who lift my spirits. I thank Bishop Walter Scott Thomas for his friendship and his awesome leadership. I invite all my friends to worship with us next Sunday as we celebrate our pastor’s anniversary,” he shared in a post on Facebook in March.
When he died on Thursday, Nate Brooks, pastor of Greater St. John Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama, had this to say:
“This is a tough loss. At the age of 22, I started as an usher at New Psalmist Baptist Church, Baltimore, MD, and Congressmen Elijah Cummings would faithfully walk into the 7:45am service and sit where he had always sat. He faithfully served the Lord—like he faithfully served and represented his community and political office. This is a major voice gone!!! RIH,” Brooks wrote.
He was respected even by those he disagreed with
Despite blasting Cummings as a “brutal bully” and his district which covers a large portion of Baltimore, as a “dangerous…disgusting, rat and rodent infested mess” earlier this summer, President Donald Trump shared warm words about Cummings on Thursday.
“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 tweeted Thursday morning.
He was the son of sharecroppers
Cummings was the son of sharecroppers from South Carolina who moved north in search of a better life. He was born and raised in Baltimore and was the first African American in history to be named speaker pro tem of the Maryland House of Delegates.
He was married to Maya Rockeymoore Cummings and was a father of three
His second wife, Maya Rockeymoore Cummings, who currently serves as chair of the Maryland Democratic Party, said he “worked until his last breath.”
“Congressman Cummings was an honorable man who proudly served his district and the nation with dignity, integrity, compassion and humility,” she said in a statement. “He worked until his last breath because he believed our democracy was the highest and best expression of our collective humanity and that our nation’s diversity was our promise, not our problem. It’s been an honor to walk by his side on this incredible journey. I loved him deeply and will miss him dearly.”
In addition to his wife, he is survived by three children, including daughters Jennifer and Adia.
He was inspired by Martin Luther King Jr. as a youth
Cummings told Baltimore Magazine that as a youth he would run home on Sundays from the church where his father was a preacher to listen to Martin Luther King Jr.’s speeches on WWIN-AM radio.
Here are some other reactions to his death on Twitter.