He stood up for the poor and the disadvantaged throughout urban America – but Elijah Cummings was principally the strong voice and political advocate for Baltimore, where he was revered as his hometown’s champion.
The Democratic congressman lived at the doorstep of some of the city’s worst rioting, including violent 2015 protests following the death of a black man, Freddie Gray, in police custody. Cummings’ involvement, taking to the streets with a bullhorn, helped quiet the storm.
Officials and others shared condolences for Rep. Elijah Cummings, who died Thursday morning in Baltimore. Here are some reactions from their statements:
FORMER PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA
“Michelle and I are heartbroken over the passing of our friend, Elijah Cummings. As Chairman of the House Oversight Committee, he showed us all not only the importance of checks and balances within our democracy, but also the necessity of good people stewarding it. Steely yet compassionate, principled yet open to new perspectives, Chairman Cummings remained steadfast in his pursuit of truth, justice, and reconciliation. It’s a tribute to his native Baltimore that one of its own brought such character, tact, and resolve into the halls of power every day.”
FORMER VICE PRESIDENT JOE BIDEN
“Elijah Cummings always knew exactly where he was supposed to be. … Whether facing a hail of bottles and insults as a young man marching to integrate a swimming pool, or giving voice to the frustrations of so many communities demanding to be treated with dignity, or rushing to calm the city’s streets, bullhorn in hand, after the funeral of Freddie Gray, Elijah’s life of action was synonymous with the history and progress of modern Baltimore.”
FORMER PRESIDENT BILL CLINTON AND FORMER SECRETARY OF STATE HILLARY CLINTON
“Elijah Cummings was a resounding voice of moral courage who fought the good fights for the people of Baltimore, and faithfully honored his oath to protect and defend the Constitution with a passion, skill, determination, and dignity rarely matched in our history.”
HOUSE SPEAKER NANCY PELOSI
“In the House, Elijah was our North Star. He was a leader of towering character and integrity, whose stirring voice and steadfast values pushed the Congress and country to rise always to a higher purpose. His principled leadership as Chair of the Committee on Oversight and Reform was the perfect testament to his commitment to restoring honesty and honor to government, and leaves a powerful legacy for years to come.”
MARYLAND GOV. LARRY HOGAN
“Congressman Cummings leaves behind an incredible legacy of fighting for Baltimore City and working to improve people’s lives. He was a passionate and dedicated public servant whose countless contributions made our state and our country better.”
BALTIMORE MAYOR BERNARD “JACK” YOUNG
“Rep. Cummings, the son of sharecroppers whose ancestors were slaves, wasn’t afraid to use his considerable intellect, booming voice, and poetic oratory to speak out against brutal dictators bent on oppression, unscrupulous business executives who took advantage of unsuspecting customers, or even a U.S. President. He was, simply put, a man of God who never forgot his duty to fight for the rights and dignity of the marginalized and often forgotten.”
REP. ADAM SCHIFF
“Elijah was the heart and soul of our caucus, a dignified leader with a voice that could move mountains. He was often the first to call to offer a kind word, a suggestion, or posit a way forward on the trickiest of issues. And it was Elijah who we turned to most when we needed guidance or help.”
REP. JOHN LEWIS
“The American people have lost a great leader at a time of crisis in our democracy. Chairman Elijah Cummings gave all he had. He dedicated his entire life to serving the public good. When this nation needed him most, he became a moral voice ‘crying in the wilderness,’ and his words and actions called a reluctant nation to conscience. … There was no greater friend to the poor, to the lost, to the left out and left behind than Rep. Cummings.”
THE CONGRESSIONAL BLACK CAUCUS
“Elijah often said, ‘that our children are the living messages that we send to a future we will never see.’ From this perspective, he fought to ensure that the next generation has access to a clean environment, affordable healthcare, a quality education, and financial stability. The Congressional Black Caucus will continue his fight and honor his legacy by fearlessly seeking the truth and ensuring every person in this country has the opportunity to achieve the American dream.