Cummings remembered as ‘fierce champion’ at funeral

APTOPIX_Cummings_Funeral_Services_16895 Former Preisdent Bill Clinton speaks at the funeral service for Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., at the New Psalmist Baptist Church in Baltimore, Md., on Friday, Oct. 25, 2019. (Lloyd Fox/The Baltimore Sun via AP, Pool)
Cummings_Funeral_Services_16895 Former Preisdent Bill Clinton speaks at the funeral service for Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., at the New Psalmist Baptist Church in Baltimore, Md., on Friday, Oct. 25, 2019. (Lloyd Fox/The Baltimore Sun via AP, Pool)
Cummings_Funeral_Services_27244 Maya Rockeymoore Cummings, second from right, watches pallbearers move the casket of her husband, Rep. Elijah Cummings, at the conclusion of his funeral service at New Psalmist Baptist Church, Friday, Oct. 25, 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/Steve Ruark)
Cummings_Funeral_Services_33396 Pallbearers carry the casket of the late U.S. Rep. Elijah Cummings during funeral services at New Psalmist Baptist Church, Friday, Oct. 25, 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, Pool)
Cummings_Funeral_Services_58009 Pallbearers carry the casket containing the body of the late U.S. Rep. Elijah Cummings ahead of his funeral at New Psalmist Baptist Church, Friday, Oct. 25, 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)
Cummings_Funeral_Services_45349 Pallbearers lift the casket of U.S. Rep. Elijah Cummings before his funeral service at New Psalmist Baptist Church, Friday, Oct. 25, 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/Steve Ruark)
Cummings_Funeral_Services_36219 Former Vice President Joe Biden, left, and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, second from left, of Calif., arrive for the funeral service of Rep. Elijah Cummings at New Psalmist Baptist Church, Friday, October 25, 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/Steve Ruark)
Cummings_Funeral_Services_70387 Mourners line up for a public viewing before the funeral service of U.S. Rep. Elijah Cummings at New Psalmist Baptist Church, Friday, Oct. 25, 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/Steve Ruark)
Cummings_Funeral_Services_84864 Former U.S. President Barack Obama arrives for funeral services for late U.S. Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., at the New Psalmist Baptist Church in Baltimore, Md., on Friday, Oct. 25, 2019. (Joshua Roberts/Pool via AP)
Cummings_Funeral_Services_90565 Former President Bill Clinton touches the flag-draped coffin of Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., during his funeral service at the New Psalmist Baptist Church in Baltimore, Md., on Friday, Oct. 25, 2019. (Joshua Roberts/Pool via AP)
Cummings_Funeral_Services_04894 Maya Rockeymoore Cummings, top right, stands next to former President Barack Obama during funeral services for the late Rep. Elijah Cummings, Friday, Oct. 25, 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)
Cummings_Funeral_Services_75605 Mourners attend the funeral service for Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., at the New Psalmist Baptist Church in Baltimore, Md., on Friday, Oct. 25, 2019. (Lloyd Fox/The Baltimore Sun via AP, Pool)
Cummings_Funeral_Services_94925 Maya Rockeymoore Cummings gestures while entering the sanctuary during funeral services for her husband, the late U.S. Rep. Elijah Cummings, Friday, Oct. 25, 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, Pool)
Cummings_Funeral_Services_99418 Maya Rockeymoore Cummings, right, is greeted by former President Barack Obama during funeral services for her husband, the late Rep. Elijah Cummings, Friday, Oct. 25, 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)
Cummings_Funeral_Services_55420 Former first lady Hillary Clinton, foreground center, former President Bill Clinton, former Vice President Joe Biden and former President Barack Obama greet members of the Maryland Congressional delegation as they arrive at the funeral service for Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., at New Psalmist Baptist Church in Baltimore, Md., on Friday, Oct. 25, 2019. (Chip Somodevilla/Pool via AP)
Cummings_Funeral_Services_55623 Maya Rockeymoore Cummings speaks at the funeral service for her husband, Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., at the New Psalmist Baptist Church in Baltimore, Md., on Friday, Oct. 25, 2019. (Lloyd Fox/The Baltimore Sun via AP, Pool)
Cummings_Funeral_Services_15745 Maya Rockeymoore Cummings speaks during funeral services for her husband, the late U.S. Rep. Elijah Cummings, Friday, Oct. 25, 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, Pool)
Cummings_Funeral_Services_79196 Pallbearers carry the casket of U.S. Rep. Elijah Cummings before his funeral service at New Psalmist Baptist Church, Friday, Oct. 25, 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/Steve Ruark)
Cummings_Funeral_Services_37699 James Cummings, the older brother of the late Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., greets former Vice President Joe Biden during the funeral service at the New Psalmist Baptist Church in Baltimore, Md., on Friday, Oct. 25, 2019. (Joshua Roberts/Pool via AP)
Cummings_Funeral_Services_61137 Pallbearers, left, carry the casket containing the body of the late U.S. Rep. Elijah Cummings ahead of his funeral at New Psalmist Baptist Church, Friday, Oct. 25, 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)
Cummings_Funeral_Services_81193 A hearse containing the body of the late U.S. Rep. Elijah Cummings arrives at New Psalmist Baptist Church ahead of funeral services for the congressman, Friday, Oct. 25, 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)
Cummings_Funeral_Services_62190 The flag-draped casket of Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., is loaded into a hearse by members of the honor guard from the U.S. Capitol after lying in state in Washington, Thursday, Oct. 24, 2019. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)
Cummings_Funeral_Services_10103 The widow of Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., Maya Rockeymoore Cummings, center, walk from the U.S. Capitol after her husband lied in state, Thursday, Oct. 24, 2019, in Washington. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)
Cummings_Funeral_Services_25172 Guests watch as the hearse carrying the flag-draped casket of Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., leaves the U.S. Capitol after lying in state in Washington, Thursday, Oct. 24, 2019. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)
Cummings_Funeral_Services_77163 The flag-draped casket of Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., is carried by members of the honor guard from the U.S. Capitol after lying in state in Washington, Thursday, Oct. 24, 2019. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)
Cummings_Funeral_Services_34107 Rep Jackie Speier, D-Calif., pays her respects at the flag-draped casket of Rep. Elija­h Cummi­ngs, D-Md., outside of the House Chamber in the Will Rogers corridor of the U.S. Capitol in Washington, Thursday, Oct. 24, 2019. (Erin Scott/Pool via AP)
Cummings_Funeral_Services_94041 Members of the pubic pay their respects at the flag-draped casket of Rep. Elija­h Cummi­ngs, D-Md., outside of the House Chamber in the Will Rogers corridor of the U.S. Capitol in Washington, Thursday, Oct. 24, 2019. (Erin Scott/Pool via AP)
Cummings_Funeral_Services_30101 Maya Rockeymoore greets visitors paying respects to her late husband Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., as he lies in state at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, Thursday, Oct. 24, 2019. (Michael Reynolds/Pool via AP)
Cummings_Funeral_Services_36324 Honor guard stands next to the flag-draped casket of Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., as the late congressman lies in state outside the House chamber at the Capitol, Thursday, Oct. 24, 2019 in Washington. (Alex Wong/Pool via AP)
Cummings_Funeral_Services_86824 Honor guard stands next to the flag-draped casket of Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., as the late congressman lies in state outside the House chamber at the Capitol, Thursday, Oct. 24, 2019 in Washington. (Alex Wong/Pool via AP)
Cummings_Funeral_Services_06200 Honor guard stands next to the flag-draped casket of Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., as the late congressman lies in state outside the House chamber at the Capitol, Thursday, Oct. 24, 2019 in Washington. (Alex Wong/Pool via AP)
Cummings_Funeral_Services_85172 Former President Barack Obama speaks during funeral services for Rep. Elijah Cummings, Friday, Oct. 25, 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, Pool)
Cummings_Funeral_Services_59681 Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton speaks during funeral services for Rep. Elijah Cummings, Friday, Oct. 25, 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, Pool)
Cummings_Funeral_Services_03421 A military honor guard lays a U.S. flag on the casket of Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., during his funeral service at New Psalmist Baptist Church in Baltimore, Md., on Friday, Oct. 25, 2019. (Chip Somodevilla/Pool via AP)
Cummings_Funeral_Services_58372 Former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton speaks during funeral services for U.S. Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., at the New Psalmist Baptist Church in Baltimore, Md., on Friday, Oct. 25, 2019. (Joshua Roberts/Pool via AP)
Cummings_Funeral_Services_96785 Former President Barack Obama greets House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., prior to the funeral services for Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., at the New Psalmist Baptist Church in Baltimore, Md., on Friday, Oct. 25, 2019. (Joshua Roberts/Pool via AP)
APTOPIX_Cummings_Funeral_Services_99418 Maya Rockeymoore Cummings, right, is greeted by former President Barack Obama during funeral services for her husband, the late Rep. Elijah Cummings, Friday, Oct. 25, 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)
Cummings_Funeral_Services_69771 A portrait of the late Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., sits nearby as his remains lie in state outside the House Chamber at the Capitol on Thursday, Oct. 24, 2019 in Washington. (Tom Williams/Pool via AP)
Cummings_Funeral_Services_76824 House Speaker Nancy Pelosi during a memorial service for Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., at the U.S. Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, Oct. 24, 2019. The Maryland congressman and civil rights champion died Thursday, Oct. 17, at age 68 of complications from long-standing health issues. (Melina Mara/Pool via AP)
Cummings_Funeral_Services_04126 Senator Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer attend a memorial service for Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., at the U.S. Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, Oct. 24, 2019. The Maryland congressman and civil rights champion died Thursday, Oct. 17, at age 68 of complications from long-standing health issues. (Melina Mara/Pool via AP)
Cummings_Funeral_Services_85169 Entering through the Capitol Rotunda, the casket arrives memorial service for Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., at the U.S. Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, Oct. 24, 2019. The Maryland congressman and civil rights champion died Thursday, Oct. 17, at age 68 of complications from long-standing health issues. (Melina Mara/Pool via AP)
APTOPIX_Cummings_Funeral_Services_59681 Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton speaks during funeral services for Rep. Elijah Cummings, Friday, Oct. 25, 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, Pool)
Cummings_Funeral_Services_37997 A mourner pauses as Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., lies in state outside the House chambers at the United States Capitol on Thursday, Oct. 24, 2019 in Washington. (Matt McClain/Pool via AP)
Cummings_Funeral_Services_23210 Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., walks off stage after delivering a scripture during funeral services for Rep. Elijah Cummings, Friday, Oct. 25, 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)
Cummings_Funeral_Services_05204 From left, former first lady Hillary Clinton, former Vice President Joe Biden and former President Bill Clinton arrive for the funeral service for Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., at New Psalmist Baptist Church in Baltimore, Md., on Friday, Oct. 25, 2019. (Chip Somodevilla/Pool via AP)
Cummings_Funeral_Services_29489 From left, Rep. Ayanna Pressley, D-Mass., Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., and Rep. Rashida Tlaib, D-Mich, arrive for the funeral service of Rep. Elijah Cummings at New Psalmist Baptist Church, Friday, Oct. 25, 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/Steve Ruark)
(1/46)

BALTIMORE (AP) — Rep. Elijah Cummings was eulogized as a leader with the fiery moral conviction of an Old Testament prophet Friday at a funeral that brought former presidents and ordinary people alike to the Baltimore church where the congressman worshipped for four decades.

“Our Elijah was a fierce champion of truth, justice and kindness in every part of his life,” said former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who took the stage at the New Psalmist Baptist Church to rousing applause.

Cummings, a black sharecropper’s son and civil rights leader who rose to power in Washington over two decades ago with his sonorous voice and powerful oratory, died of longstanding health problems Oct. 17 at age 68 while locked in political combat with President Donald Trump.

The Baltimore Democrat led multiple investigations of the president, who recently lashed out at Cummings’ district as a “disgusting, rat and rodent infested mess” where “no human being would want to live.”

The turmoil on Capitol Hill seemed close at hand during the service.

In what sounded like a reference to the impeachment inquiry against Trump, former President Bill Clinton told the crowd, “We all know now that, at least until certain things happen, his legacy is how ardently he honored his oath to protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.”

“He knew that without the Constitution, the laws that were passed under it, the rights that were guaranteed by it and the abuses it was designed to prevent … he would not have been in Congress,” Clinton said, “and so he said to himself, ‘I am certain every day, I will not let this promise be sullied.'”

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who as Democratic leader is overseeing the impeachment drive, took note in her eulogy of the bipartisan crowd at the church and said Cummings had the ability to work with both his fellow Democrats and with Republicans.

“Our Elijah always made a seat at the table for others,” she said.

Former President Barack Obama recalled Cummings’ humble beginnings, saying: “His life validates the things we tell ourselves about what’s possible in this country, not guaranteed, but possible.”

Cummings’s widow, Maya Rockeymoore Cummings, told the crowd that Trump’s recent jabs hurt her husband. Without mentioning the president by name, she said Cummings’ job became “infinitely more difficult in the last months of his life when he sustained personal attacks and attacks on his beloved city.”

“While he carried himself with grace and dignity in all public forums, it hurt him,” she said.

Trump, who was in South Carolina on Friday, offered his condolences to the Cummings family during a speech and recalled the congressman’s “very strong passion” for lowering prescription drug prices, adding: “We’re going to get it done.”

At the church, gospel and R&B singer BeBe Winans, a favorite of Cummings, performed “Stand” as mourners sang along, stood and raised their hands. Many wiped away tears. Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Elizabeth Warren recited the 23rd Psalm.

“It is no coincidence — is it? — that Elijah Cummings shared a name with an Old Testament prophet,” Hillary Clinton told the crowd. “Like the prophet, our Elijah could call down fire from heaven. But he also prayed and worked for healing. He weathered storms and earthquakes but never lost his faith.”

Several hundred people had lined up outside before dawn, waiting for the doors to open so they could pay their final respects to Cummings, who lay in an open casket in the grand, 4,000-seat sanctuary.

“I felt like it was my civic duty, my responsibility to come and pay respects to a man who has done so much for Baltimore city, so much for the people, trying to keep us together,” said the Rev. Jacqueline Williams, 67, of Baltimore, as she waited in line.

On Thursday, Cummings became the first African American lawmaker to lie in state in the U.S. Capitol.

Bobby Trotter, a 67-year-old Baltimore resident who lives just outside Cummings’ district, recalled how the congressman helped quell tensions in the city after the rioting that erupted in 2015 over the death of Freddie Gray, a black man who suffered a spinal injury during a jolting ride in a police van.

Cummings “believed in helping people, particularly people that were downtrodden. He stood up. He spoke for them,” Trotter said.

A family spokeswoman said the burial would be private.

___

Associated Press writers Julio Cortez in Baltimore and Denise Lavoie in Richmond contributed to this report.

Copyright © 2019 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, written or redistributed.

More from WTOP

Log in to your WTOP account for notifications and alerts customized for you.

Sign up