Democratic congressman from Maryland and Civil Rights activist, Elijah Cummings is dead.
Cummings, who gained national attention for his principled stands on politically charged issues in the House, his calming effect on anti-police riots in Baltimore and his forceful opposition to the presidency of Donald Trump, died early Thursday morning at Johns Hopkins Hospital, the Associated Press(AP) reported.
The report said the 68-year old congressman passed away after undergoing an unspecified medical procedure.
A statement from his office said that he had passed away due to “complications concerning longstanding health challenges.”
Cummings was born to a family of Southern sharecroppers and Baptist preachers and grew up in the racially fractured Baltimore of the 1950s and 1960s. At 11, he helped integrate a local swimming pool while being attacked with bottles and rocks.
In the Maryland House of Delegates, he became the youngest chairman of the Legislative Black Caucus and the first African American to serve as speaker pro tempore, the member who presides in the speaker’s absence.
In 1996, he won the seat in the U.S. House of Representatives that Kweisi Mfume (D) vacated to become NAACP president.
He drew national attention as Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s chief defender during 2015 congressional hearings into her handling of the attack three years earlier on U.S. government facilities in Benghazi, Libya. The attack killed U.S. Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens and three other Americans.
Cummings eventually served as chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus and as ranking Democrat and then chairman of what became the House Oversight and Reform Committee.