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The Loss of Rep. Elijah Cummings Is a Massive One

Rep. Elijah Cummings rests his temple to his fingers thoughtfully.

Rep. Elijah Cummings of Baltimore passed away Thursday from complications related to what his office described as “long-standing health challenges.” He was 68 years old.

This is incredibly heartbreaking. Cummings had served in Congress since 1996. He grew up in Baltimore during the civil rights movement and as early as elementary school, he fought to integrate public pools. He was the first African American in Maryland history to be named Speaker Pro Tem of the Maryland House of Delegates, where he served for 14 years before being elected to Congress.

From the Baltimore Sun:

Cummings was a “father figure” and a “civil rights icon” who “left a mark” with his efforts to end segregation, said Matthew Hubbard, a West Baltimore barber. He mentioned Cummings in the same breath as such legendary civil rights figures as the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. and the Rev. Jesse Jackson.

Usually, we associate that long of a political career with complacency towards constituents. Not with Cummings. His wife, Maya Rockeymoore Cummings–who is also the chairwoman of Maryland’s Democratic Party–said in a statement (via AP), “He worked until his last breath because he believed our democracy was the highest and best expression of our collective humanity and that our nation’s diversity was our promise, not our problem.”

As Chairman of the House Oversight Committee, Cummings has been a powerful force in leading the charge against Donald Trump. Over the last few months, Trump has angrily tweeted at or about Cummings nearly 20 times. This makes sense since Cummings had played a major role in the ongoing impeachment investigations.

Cummings fought Trump’s attempts to add a citizenship question to the census, he called out ethical violations among Trump’s staff and appointees, and he refused to ignore the horrific treatment of immigrants and asylum seekers in border camps. This is a great loss.

(image: Alex Wong/Getty Images)

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Vivian Kane (she/her) is the Senior News Editor at The Mary Sue, where she's been writing about politics and entertainment (and all the ways in which the two overlap) since the dark days of late 2016. Born in San Francisco and radicalized in Los Angeles, she now lives in Kansas City, Missouri, where she gets to put her MFA to use covering the local theatre scene. She is the co-owner of The Pitch, Kansas City’s alt news and culture magazine, alongside her husband, Brock Wilbur, with whom she also shares many cats.