Rep. Elijah Cummings passed away this morning in his home city of Baltimore.
Cummings died at Gilchrist Hospice Care, a Johns Hopkins affiliate, after “succumbing to longstanding health issues,” according to a statement released by his office. He was 68.
“With the passing of U.S. Rep. Elijah Cummings, the City of Baltimore, our country, and people throughout the world have lost a powerful voice and one of the strongest and most gifted crusaders for social justice,” says Baltimore Mayor Bernard “Jack” Young in a statement released by his office this morning. “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.”
Known for his civil rights advocacy, Cummings was elected to Congress in 1996 and rose to head the House Committee on Oversight and Reform.
Among families and students here, he was known for programs such as the Elijah Cummings Youth Leadership Program in Israel, now in its 20th year. As part of the program’s prestigious fellowship, African-American teens from his district spend two years taking leadership seminars and learning about the local Jewish community. They also study black-Jewish relations and the Holocaust.
The program sends a dozen sophomore high school students from the congressman’s district on a three and a half week journey to Israel, says Baltimore Jewish Council Executive Director Howard Libit. Libit praised Cummings for his role with the program and it was an example of the congressman’s efforts to build understanding and solidarity.
Some of Cummings’ last actions in Congress include sponsoring the bipartisan Family Asthma Act, and along with the city’s delegation, seeking federal funding for lead paint removal in Baltimore.