- Title: Washington mourns death of Congressman Elijah Cummings
- Date: 17th October 2019
- Summary: WASHINGTON, D.C., UNITED STATES (OCTOBER 17, 2019) (REUTERS) EXTERIOR OF U.S. CAPITOL FLAG AT HALF-STAFF
- Embargoed: 31st October 2019 20:24
- Keywords: U.S. Representative Elijah Cummings civil rights Congress Donald Trump
- Location: WASHINGTON DC AND PHILADELPHIA, PENNSYLVANIA AND BALTIMORE, MARYLAND, UNITED STATES
- City: WASHINGTON DC AND PHILADELPHIA, PENNSYLVANIA AND BALTIMORE, MARYLAND, UNITED STATES
- Country: USA
- Topics: Government/Politics
- Reuters ID: LVA001B1HMOUF
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text:Flags were lowered to half-staff and the House of Representatives held a moment of silence on Thursday (October 17) to mourn the death of U.S. Representative Elijah Cummings, a civil rights champion who over the last quarter century became one of the most influential Democrats in Congress and a key figure in the impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump.
A powerful speaker with a formidable presence, Cummings had clashed with Trump on subjects ranging from congressional oversight of the White House to Trump's attacks on Cummings' native city of Baltimore, which the president called "rat-infested."
Cummings responded in a speech early in August at the National Press Club, saying that high-level government officials should "stop invoking fear, using racist language and encouraging reprehensible behavior."
Cummings died of "complications concerning longstanding health challenges," his office said in a statement. He had been absent recently from Congress, to which he was first elected in 1996.
The barrel-chested Cummings was the son of African-American sharecroppers. He rose to lead the powerful House Oversight and Reform Committee, one of three congressional panels leading an impeachment inquiry that was launched on Sept. 24, after Trump asked Ukraine to investigate 2020 Democratic presidential rival Joe Biden. The panel has been involved in fights with the Trump administration over subpoenas challenged by the president.
Cummings was a trial lawyer before being elected to office to represent Baltimore and other parts of central Maryland. He graduated from Howard University and the University of Maryland School of Law.
He spent 14 years in the state legislature, becoming the first African-American to be named state House Speaker Pro Tempore, who presides over the chamber when the Speaker is absent.
When he moved to Congress, he succeeded Kweisi Mfume, who went on to lead the NAACP civil rights group.
Cummings' standing with his constituents was clear during the 2015 riots in Baltimore after Freddie Gray, an unarmed black man, was killed when police gave him a "rough ride" in the back of a van after arresting him.
Following a night of arson and violence, Cummings served as a calming presence in the streets, mingling with people and listening to their anger.
This year, Cummings harshly criticized Trump's immigration policy and gave a tongue-lashing to U.S. Department of Homeland Security officials over conditions for migrants detained along the southern border.
Cummings said he had "no doubt" the president was a racist, after Trump attacked four minority congresswomen on Twitter.
He told the Baltimore Sun that he didn't think Trump understood "what it feels like to be treated like less than a dog," recalling white mobs that threw rocks and bottles at Cummings and other African-Americans seeking to integrate a swimming pool in Baltimore decades ago.
(Production: Kristin Neubauer)
- Copyright Holder: REUTERS
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