Maryland Democratic Congressmember Elijah Cummings has died at the age of 68. The longtime African-American politician has for decades championed progressive causes and the rights of African Americans and the poor. He has also been a fierce critic of President Trump, who has called Cummings’s majority-black district a “rodent-infested mess.” Cummings was born in 1951 as the son of a sharecropper. In elementary school, he was told he was “too slow” and that he spoke poorly. He rose to become one of the most powerful orators in the Maryland State House and the first black House speaker pro tem, and then the chair of the Congressional Black Caucus. Congressmember Cummings also served as the chair of the House Oversight and Reform Committee. In 2016, Democracy Now! spoke to Congressmember Elijah Cummings from the floor of the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia, asking him about the “Mothers of the Movement” — the mothers of Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown, Eric Garner and other African Americans killed by police — who had just taken the stage at the DNC.
Rep. Elijah Cummings: “Keep in mind, I have a nephew who, sadly, died five years ago, being robbed. And I went to visit his room the next day, and his brains were splattered on the wall. He was 20 years old, a student at Old Dominion University. And he’s dead at 20. And so, I can really relate to those women, because when a child dies like that, you mourn for what could have been. And so, you know — but I think the key for that, the reason why that was so important and powerful, is so the people understand, just trying to get people to pause and understand the pain, or try to understand it. Those women were very bold. What they did was they took their pain, turned it into a passion to do their purpose. Pain, passion, purpose. And so, I admire them, because they have taken their pain, and now they’re trying to help other mothers not have to go through what they went through.”
Amy Goodman: “Have you ever been stopped by the police over the years?”
Rep. Elijah Cummings: “Many times. Many times. Many times. And keep in mind what then, as a younger man — I got stopped a lot more as a younger man. I’ll never forget one time I was fortunate enough to get an Acura automobile, and I was being stopped almost every week. I was about 32, and I was being stopped every week.”
That was Maryland Democratic Congressmember Elijah Cummings. He died early Thursday morning at Johns Hopkins Hospital at the age of 68.