Elijah Eugene Cummings was an American born civil rights advocate and politician who has served in the United States House of Representatives for Maryland’s 7th congressional district from 1996 until his death in 2019.
The district includes just over half of the city of Baltimore, most of the majority-black precincts of Baltimore County, as well as most of Howard County. He previously served in the Maryland House of Delegates. He was a member of the Democratic Party.
Cummings served in the Maryland House from 1983 through 1996. That year, he was elected to the U.S. House. Cummings served as the chair of the Committee on Oversight and Reform from January 2019 until his death in October 2019.
Elijah Cummings Early life, education, and career
Cummings was born on January 18, 1951 in Baltimore, the son of Ruth Elma (née Cochran) and Robert Cummings. His parents were sharecroppers. He was the third child of seven. Cummings graduated with honors from the Baltimore City College high school in 1969.
Elijah Cummings attended Howard University in Washington, D.C., where he served in the student government as sophomore class president, student government treasurer and later student government president. He became a member of the Phi Beta Kappa Society and graduated in 1973 with a Bachelor’s degree in Political Science.
Cummings graduated from law school at the University of Maryland School of Law, receiving his Juris Doctor in 1976, and was admitted to the Maryland Bar later that year. He practiced law for 19 years before first being elected to the House in the 1996 elections.
Cummings received 12 honorary doctoral degrees from universities across the United States, most recently an honorary doctorate of public service from the University of Maryland, College Park in 2017.
For 14 years, Cummings served in the Maryland House of Delegates. His predecessor, Lena King Lee, raised funds and campaigned for him; years later, Elijah Cummings credited her with launching his political career.
In the Maryland General Assembly, he served as Chairman of the Legislative Black Caucus of Maryland and was the first African American in Maryland history to be named Speaker Pro Temper, the second highest position in the House of Delegates.
I’m begging the American people to pay attention to what is going on. Because if you want to have a democracy intact for your children, and your children’s children, and generations yet unborn we’ve got to guard this moment…this is our watch. pic.twitter.com/ShTZwbQROP
Elijah Cummings also served on several boards and commissions, both in and out of Baltimore. Those include SEED Schools of Maryland Board of Directors and the University of Maryland Law School Board of Advisors.
He served on numerous Maryland boards and commissions including the Board of Visitors to the United States Naval Academy and the Elijah Cummings Youth Program in Israel. He was an honorary member of the Baltimore Zoo Board of Trustees.
In addition to his speaking engagements, Elijah Cummings wrote a biweekly column for the Baltimore Afro-American newspaper.
Elijah Cummings Personal life
Elijah Cummings lived in the Madison Park community in Baltimore and was an active member of the New Psalmist Baptist Church. He was married to Maya Rockeymoore Cummings, who was elected chairwoman of the Maryland Democratic Party in December 2018. They had three children.
In June 2011, his nephew Christopher Cummings, son of his brother James, was murdered at his off-campus house near Old Dominion University in Norfolk, Virginia, where he was a student.
Cummings underwent surgery to repair his aortic valve in May 2017 and was absent from Capitol Hill for two months. In July 2017, he developed a surgery-related infection but returned to work.Cummings was later hospitalized for a knee infection.
Elijah Cummings Death
On October 17, 2019, Cummings died at Johns Hopkins Hospital at the age of 68 from, his spokeswoman stated, “complications concerning longstanding health challenges”