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Rep. John Lewis on Passing of Beloved Chairman Elijah Cummings

October 17, 2019
Press Release

The American people have lost a great leader at a time of crisis in our democracy.  Chairman Elijah Cummings gave all he had.  He dedicated his entire life to serving the public good.  When this nation needed him most, he became a moral voice “crying in the wilderness,” and his words and actions called a reluctant nation to conscience. 

He was a defining and commanding chairman of the House Oversight and Reform Committee who was not afraid to use the power vested in him to inquire, investigate, and demand the answers the American people deserve.  He led us to the place where we, as a nation, finally understood government reform was urgently required.  His passion, his vigor, and his example were a master class in leadership demonstrating how we must all dig in to defend and preserve our democracy.  His passing is a tremendous blow to the struggle to build a fair and just society in America.

Though his voice will be sorely missed on the national stage and in this Congress, the people of Baltimore have suffered the greatest loss.  As a representative of the 7th congressional district of Maryland, he never, ever forgot his roots.  He was an ardent and beloved advocate for the people of his district.  Even during a time of turmoil when mourners spilled into the streets during the tragic death of Freddie Gray, Rep. Cummings dove into the sea of humanity, joined the people of his district, and became a calming force at a turbulent time. 

There was no greater friend to the poor, to the lost, to the left out and left behind than Rep. Cummings.  His fearless advocacy and his ability to be a true representative on their behalf helped them stand a little bit taller and a little bit straighter, even while forces work to erase their contribution.

My heart goes out to the people of the 7th district of Maryland, the Maryland delegation, to his wife and family, and to all my colleagues in the Congress who mourn his death today.  Rep. Elijah Cummings was one of a kind, he will remain in our hearts always, and he will be deeply missed.