The flag-draped coffin of Rep. Elijah Cummings was carried out of the U.S. Capitol by members of the honor guard on Thursday evening, closing out the emotional day where the nation’s most powerful leaders gathered to pay their respects at a moving celebration of life ceremony.
Cummings’ emotional widow Maya Rockeymoore was seen looking on as her husband’s casket was placed into a hearse bound for Baltimore, where his funeral service will take place Friday and where former presidents Barack Obama and Bill Clinton are scheduled to deliver remarks.
On Friday a funeral service will be held for the respected Maryland Democrat at New Psalmist Baptist Church, Cummings’ house of worship for nearly 40 years, where Hillary Clinton, Speaker Pelosi and NAACP leader and Maryland congressman Kweisi Mfume will speak. Cummings’ brother and his daughters are also listed as speakers for the funeral service.
On Thursday Cummings was lauded ‘a giant’ as he made history as the first African-American lawmaker to lie in state in the dome of the Capitol.
Cummings, who died this month at 68 from complications related to longstanding health issues, was remembered by colleagues as a voice of moral clarity on civil rights, intrepid investigator, and a kind and genuine citizen of the halls of Congress.
Among the most poignant tributes came from a lawmaker with whom Cummings, a fiery liberal from Baltimore, had almost nothing in common politically.
‘He’s called a number of things — a father, a husband, friend, chairman. For me I was privileged enough to be able to call him a dear friend,’ said Mark Meadows, who over the past two years has spent about as much energy defending President Donald Trump as Cummings did investigating him.
‘Perhaps this place and this country would be better served with a few more unexpected friendships,’ Meadows told a silent crowd of mourners inside the Capitol’s Statuary Hall – a grand room that housed some of the most rancorous debates over slavery wen it served as the House before the Civil War.
The flag-draped casket of Rep. Elijah Cummings was carried by members of the honor guard from the U.S. Capitol after lying in state in Washington on Thursday evening
On Thursday Cummings was lauded ‘a giant’ as he became the first African-American lawmaker to lie in state in the dome of the Capitol. Lawmakers flocked to the dome to pay their respects and observe a moving celebration of life ceremony
The widow of Rep Cummings Maya Rockeymoore pictured center walking from the U.S. Capitol after her husband lied in state on Thursday. Tomorrow a funeral service will be held for the esteemed Congressman in Baltimore
Guests watched as the hearse carrying Cummings’ flag-draped casket left the U.S. Capitol, likely headed to Baltimore where his funeral will take place and where former presidents Barack Obama and Bill Clinton are slated to speak
Maya Rockeymoore Cummings shared a sweet embrace with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi as House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy looked on during Thursday’s celebration of life ceremony
On Friday a funeral service will be held for the respected Maryland Democrat at New Psalmist Baptist Church, Cummings’ house of worship for nearly 40 years, where Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton and Bill Clinton will share remarks
At the start of Thursday’s service, the son of sharecroppers was carried up the steps of the Capitol in a flag-draped coffin by a military honor guard, with his widow Maya Rockeymoore Cummings waiting at the top of the steps, hand on heart.
Inside Statuary Hall, his coffin was placed on the same catafalque used in Abraham Lincoln’s funeral.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi called him ‘truly a master of the House.’ She referred to him as ‘sweet Elijah,’ and said Cummings was also the ‘mentor of the House.’
Senate Minority leader Chuck Schumer said of Cummings: ‘Our country has lost a giant.’
‘His authority came not from the office he held nor from the timbre of his voice. It came from the moral force of his life,’ said Schumer.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky pointed to Cummings’ efforts to calm rioting that broke out in Baltimore after the killing of Freddie Gray while in police custody.
‘He didn’t just represent Baltimore. He embodied it,’ McConnell said.
Notably absent was President Donald Trump, who famously clashed with Cummings and branded his home town of Baltimore ‘rat-infested’ amid Cummings’ constant pursuit of the administration. Vice President Mike Pence, who served with Cummings as a former House member (Pence was also in party leadership), also did not attend the service.
Pence came by later Thursday afternoon to pay his respects by viewing Cummings’ casket. He was accompanied by Meadows.
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy of California was also bart of the bipartisan, bicameral memorial, where Cummings was celebrated.
The public was allowed to pay their respects to Cummings later Thursday. The process went on for hours as people lined up to see Cummings’ flag-draped coffin, which was positioned just outside the House chamber where he delivered fiery speeches.
During his first speech on the floor in 1996, Cummings cited a poem by civil rights leader Dr. Benjamin Mays.
‘I only have a minute. Sixty seconds in it,’ Cummings said. ‘Forced upon me, I did not choose it, But I know that I must use it. Give account if I abuse it. Suffer, if I lose it. Only a tiny little minute, But eternity is in it.’
Only two African-Americans have lain in the Dome before: Rosa Parks in 2005 and in 1998, Capitol Hill Police officer Jacob Chestnut, murdered by a gunman while on duty along with another officer.
Cummings was a Democrat and chairman of the House Oversight and Reform Committee. He used his perch to occasionally torment President Donald Trump with requests for information ranging from security clearances obtained by his family members and detailed information requests about the president’s Washington, D.C. hotel.
Lying in state: The coffin of Elijah Cummings is placed at the center of Statuary Hall, under the dome of the Capitol, to lie in state. Lawmakers paid tribute before the doors were opened to the public
Packed: Statuary Hall was full as lawmakers and Elijah Cummings’ family mourned his loss, with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi the first to speak in his memory, saying that it was a ‘celebration of the life’ of a ‘true master of the House’
Rest in grandeur: Nancy Pelosi (left) watches as the military honor guard prepare to end their escort
A link to Lincoln: The coffin of Elijah Cummings was placed on the catafalque which bore the Civil War president’s coffin in April 1865
Comfort: Nancy Pelosi greeted Maya Rockeymoore Cummings, Elijah Cummings’ widow, during the memorial service to the Baltimore Democratic congressman, the first African-American lawmaker to lie in state in the Capitol
Floral tribute: Nancy Pelosi and Kevin McCarthy present a wreath in memory of Elijah Cummings, on behalf of the House
Grief of a widow: Maya Rockeymoore Cummings stands over her husband’s coffin as it lies in state under the dome of the Capitol
Remembered: Elijah Cummings’ coffin is saluted by in the center of the dome of the Capitol where it lies on the catafalque which previously bore Abraham Lincoln’s coffin. His widow Maya Rockeymoore Cummings stands on one side, on the other (from left) House Speaker Nancy Pelosi; Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell; Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer; House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer; House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn; and Maryland Senator Ben Cardin
Address: Nancy Pelosi called Elijah Cummings ‘a true master of the House,’ as she recounted how he ran the Oversight Committee
‘Son of sharecroppers, master of the House.’ Nancy Pelosi hailed Elijah Cummings for an extraordinary career which saw him grow up in Baltimore, to parents who had left the South, and become the chairman of one of the House’s most powerful committees
Prayer: Members of the Congressional Black Caucus came together as one to the coffin of Elijah Cummings, paying tribute to the first African-American lawmaker to lie in state in the Capitol
Place of honor: A military honor guard carries Elijah Cummings’ coffin to the center of Statuary Hall in the Capitol
Crowd: Lawmakers and Elijah Cummings’ family and friends fill Statuary Hall in the Capitol for his memorial service and lying in state
Carried in honor: Two members of the military carry Elijah Cummings’ coffin the final steps of the way to the center of the dome of the Capitol
Honored in the dome: Elijah Cummings’ coffin is carried to the center of the dome of the Capitol to lie in state, the first time the honor has been given to an African-American lawmaker
Honor guard: The military escort complete their duties and prepare to stand guard in the dome of the Capitol
Widow’s tears: The emotion shows on the faces of Maaya Rockeymoore Cummings as her husband’s remains are carried up the Capitol Steps
Family grief: Elijah Cummings widow Maya was at the head of his family as they watched his coffin being carried into the Capitol
Widow: Maya Rockeymoore Cummins stood hand on heart as her husband’s coffin was carried to the top of the Capitol steps
Face of grief: Elijah Cummings’ widow Maya Rockeymoore Cummings, who is now expected to run for his seat, waited at the top of the steps for her husband’s coffin
Final steps: The honor guard carry the coffin of Elijah Cummings under the East portico of the Capitol building
Taken to the Capitol for the last time: Elijah Cummings’ coffin was carried up the East Front Steps of the Capitol to lie in state by a military honor guard
Pioneering honor: Elijah Cummings’ coffin was carried into the Capitol as his family waited at the top of the stairs; it is the first time an African-American lawmaker has laid in state in the dome
Military precision: One member of each branch of the armed services carried Elijah Cummings’ banner-draped casket
Day of solemnity: Elijah Cummings’ coffin is carried into the Capitol, where flags have been at half-staff in mourning
Loss: Elijah Cummings, the 68-year-old Baltimore, MD, congressman, was the son of sharecroppers who was taken to lie in state in the dome of the Capitol
Ready to mourn: John Lewis, the civil rights campaigner and Democratic Georgia congressman, waits for the arrival of Elijah Cummings’ coffin in the dome of the Capitol with other lawmakers including (center) Maxine Waters, the chair of the House Banking Committee
Time to remember: Members of the Congressional Black Caucus led by John Lewis gather for the memorial service for Elijah Cummings in the dome of the Capitol
Honoring: House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer wait for the arrival of Elijah Cummings’ coffin
The body of the late Rep. Elijah Cummings of Maryland will lie in state at the Capitol Thursday
He ran a blockbuster hearing where longtime Trump lawyer Michael Cohen testified and called the president a ‘con man’ and tried to use his subpoena power to claw financial information about Trump’s real estate empire.
But Cummings also maintained warm friendships with colleagues on both sides of the aisle, including very conservative members of the Freedom Caucus and arch defenders of President Trump, who blasted Cummings’ hometown of Baltimore as ‘rat-infested’ in a Twitter barrage at the lawmaker this year.
Bipartisan farewell: Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Minority Leader Chuck Schumer both spoke in memory of Elijah Cummings
Heads bowed in memory: Lawmakers bowed their heads as they paid tribute to Elijah Cummings
Honor guard: Two members of U.S. Capitol Police stand in dress uniform at Elijah Cummings’ coffin, with the matching wreaths from the House and the Senate behind them, and the floor of the House through the doors
Among giants: Elijah Cummings’ coffin lies in Statuary Hall, where each state has two people from their history; among them are Washington and Adams
Tribute to a friend: Mark Meadows, the ranking member on the House Oversight Committee, said he had lost a dear friend and quoted scripture, saying:’In my Father’s house there are many mansions,’ then adding: ‘Elijah has left his tent to go to a mansion.’
New generation: Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez offers her memory at the coffin of Elijah Cummings with Adam Schiff, chairman of the House Intelligence Committee to her left
Bipartisan memory: Adam Schiff and Mitt Romney pay their respects at Elijah Cummings’ flag-draped coffin
Friends: The Rev. Al Sharpton and Morning Joe co-host Joe Scarborough speak as they attend the memorial service for Elijah Cummings; Scarborough, a former Republican congressman, and his wife Mika Brzezinski were married by Cummings and were seen leaving the service
Lighter moment: Minneapolis Democrat Ilhan Omar shares a joke with other members of the Congressional Black Caucus
Choral tribute: Members of the Morgan State University Choir singing during Elijah Cummings’ memorial service
Remembering: Mika Brzezinski, co-host of MSNBC’s Morning Joe, and CNN commentator April Ryan, wait for the memorial service. Brzezinski and her co-host Joe Scarborough were married by Cummings
Across the divide: Steve Scalise, the House Minority Leader, and Democratic Congressman John Lewis sat side-by-side for the service with (right) Eleanor Holmes, the Democratic delegate from Washington D.C. The district does not have members of Congress
Senators mourn: Republican Senate Judiciary Committee chairman Lindsey Graham and Senate Democratic whip Dick Durbin
Senators’ tribute: Among those paying their respects to Elijah Cummings were Amy Klobuchar, the Democratic Minnesota senator who is running for president, Senate minority whip Dick Durbin, the Democratic senator from Illinois and (directly behind him) Roy Blunt, the senior Republican senator from Missouri
Still in the race: Former Maryland Congressman John Delaney, who is running for president, speaks to current Maryland rep. Katherine Clark
Seeking comfort: Mourners hug after the memorial service for Elijah Cummings
Public prepare to mourn: Elijah Cummings’ lying in state was opened to the public after his memorial service
Political nod: One mourner wore an ‘impeach Trump now’ badge – Cummings’ Oversight Committee is continuing to investigate the president for possible impeachment
Cummings died Oct. 17 after complications from long-standing health problems. He spent 22 years working in the Capitol as a member of Congress, often lingering in the House Speaker’s Lobby, an informal area off the House floor where he could chat with colleagues and dole out quotes to reporters.
A wake and funeral are planned Friday in Baltimore.
Former U.S. presidents Barack Obama and Bill Clinton, along with former presidential candidate and Senator Hillary Clinton, are among a who’s-who list of the Democratic Party slated to speak on Friday at Cummings’ funeral.
Obama’s spokeswoman Katie Hill said in a statement late Wednesday that the former U.S. president was requested to speak by Cummings’ widow Maya Rockeymoore-Cummings.
“He will deliver remarks about the remarkable life and legacy of one of this country’s finest public servants,” Hill said in the statement.
Former President Barack Obama is scheduled to speak at Cummings’ funeral Friday
Former President Bill President (r, pictured with former Maryland Gov. Parris Glendening) also is scheduled to speak at Cummings’ funeral
In this Monday, April 27, 2015 file photo, Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., pauses as he addresses mourners at a funeral for Freddie Gray at New Shiloh Baptist Church in Baltimore. Cummings became a powerful voice on civil rights issues
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi will speak at a Capitol service for Cummings, who used his position to investigate President Trump
Also slated to speak is former National Association for the Advancement of Colored People President Kweisi Mfume, whose Maryland seat Cummings took over when Mfume became the leader of the civil rights group. The seat, Maryland’s 7th congressional district, was held by Cummings for more than two decades.
Along with Hillary Clinton, and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Cumming’s widow, brother and daughters will also speak.
President Trump is not expected to attend. Despite their clashes, the Trump tweeted fondly about Cummings following the lawmaker’s death this month. ‘My warmest condolences to the family and many friends of Congressman Elijah Cummings. I got to see first hand the strength, passion and wisdom of this highly respected political leader. His work and voice on so many fronts will be very hard, if not impossible, to replace!” said Trump
A sharecropper’s son, Cummings rose to become a civil rights champion, committee chairman and a leader of an impeachment inquiry of President Donald Trump.
He became chairman in January when he and his fellow Democrats took majority control of the House.
In late September, Speaker Pelosi launched a formal impeachment investigation into Trump’s dealings with Ukraine and designated the House’s intelligence, foreign affairs and oversight committees to lead the probe.
As a tribute to Cummings, no votes are scheduled Thursday in the House.
African-American pioneers: The first African American to lie in honor in the Capitol was Jacob Chestnut, a Capitol Police officer murdered on duty in 1998; in 2005 Rosa Parks was given the same honor
Tributes: Visitors pass by the casket of Rosa Parks as she lies in honor at the Capitol Rotunda on October 30, 2005
Norris Davis, friend of the late U.S. Rep. Elijah Cummings, touches a banner with the likeness of the congressman after speaking during a viewing service at Morgan State University, Wednesday, Oct. 23, 2019, in Baltimore. The Maryland congressman and civil rights champion died Thursday, Oct. 17, at age 68 of complications from long-standing health issues. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)
FILE – In this April 27, 2017, file photo, Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., ranking member on the House Oversight Committee, speaks to reporters during a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington. Many faith leaders, activists and politicians in Baltimore have one thing in common: They were mentored by Cummings. Cummings, who died Thursday at 68, inspired and advised others, sharing his political wisdom. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta, File)
Masonic guards stand in front of an image of the late U.S. Rep. Elijah Cummings during a viewing service at Morgan State University, Wednesday, Oct. 23, 2019, in Baltimore. The Maryland congressman and civil rights champion died Thursday, Oct. 17, at age 68 of complications from long-standing health issues. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)
He was born in Baltimore on January 18, 1951, to Robert Cummings Sr and Ruth Elma Cummings, who moved to Maryland after sharecropping on South Carolina land where their ancestors were enslaved. He was one of seven children.
In grade school, a counselor told Cummings he was too slow to learn and spoke poorly, and he would never fulfill his dream of becoming a lawyer.
‘I was devastated,’ Cummings told The Associated Press in 1996, shortly before he won his seat in Congress. ‘My whole life changed. I became very determined.’
It steeled Cummings to prove that counselor wrong.
He became not only a lawyer, but one of the most powerful orators in the statehouse, where he entered office in 1983.
Cummings is survived by his wife Rockeymoore, whom he married in 2008, as well as his two daughters, Jennifer and Adria, and a son from previous relationships.
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