EASTON — Local leaders mourned U.S. Rep. Elijah Cummings, who died Thursday, Oct. 17, at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore from complications of longtime health challenges, his office said in a statement. He was 68.

Cummings was friends with Walter Black, first vice president of the Talbot County NAACP. The two men praised each other in February at Bethel AME Cambridge for Gloria Richardson Day, an event sponsored by Eastern Shore Network for Change.

“U.S. Congressman Elijah Cummings was a good and decent man with an uncompromising conviction and unyielding fortitude for freedom and social justice for all persons,” Black wrote in a statement. “Baltimore City, his congressional district, this nation and the world has lost a real champion. As we go forward, perhaps there will be a successor, but never an adequate replacement.

“I am honored to have been his friend. My condolences to his wife, Dr. Maya Rockeymore Cummings.”

Born and raised in Baltimore, Cummings was serving his 13th term representing Maryland’s seventh congressional district. He served as the chairman of the Committee on Oversight and Reform. He previously served 14 years in the Maryland House of Delegates and became Maryland’s first African American to be named speaker pro tem.

“Thank you for your life’s work of challenging the status quo,” Dion Banks, co-founder of Eastern Shore Network for Change, wrote on his Facebook page. “Your bravery, leadership and example of stewardship will forever remain in the lives of the people you touched all over the world.”

Richard Potter, NAACP Talbot County branch president, said he is deeply saddened at the passing of Cummings.

“It’s a great loss not only to those who fought civil rights,” Potter said. “He was a gentleman who was very patriotic. He stood for truths and had morals and ethics ... He fought for equality across the board.”

“... We’ve lost our friend at a time when our city, state and country needs his voice and his moral clarity more than ever before,” Maryland Comptroller Peter Franchot wrote on his Facebook page. “There will never be another Elijah Cummings. For the good of our embattled nation, however, and for the countless children and families who would have been long forgotten if not for Elijah’s good fight, we must try so much harder to live up to the values that defined his life.”

Governor Larry Hogan released a statement: “... Congressman Cummings leaves behind an incredible legacy of fighting for Baltimore City and working to improve people’s lives. He was a passionate and dedicated public servant whose countless contributions made our state and our country better.

“Congressman Elijah Cummings was a dedicated public servant for 36 years, a trailblazer who was unafraid to speak up for what he believed in and the people he represented. His passing will undoubtedly be felt by the people of Baltimore and by all people across our state and nation.”

“It is times like these that we put politics aside and remember a man who deeply cared for the city of Baltimore and the state of Maryland,” Lt. Gov. Boyd Rutherford said in a written statement. “My wife Monica and I, and our entire family, join with many others in praying for Rep. Cummings’ friends and family, especially his wife Maya, that they find comfort in his legacy during this difficult time. May he rest in peace.”

The Maryland Commission of Civil Rights also released a statement regarding the congressman’s passing: Congressman Cummings was a valued friend of the agency and one of Maryland’s most consistent and forceful champions for equity, inclusion, and opportunity during his life of public service.

“Growing up in Baltimore during the 1950s and 1960s, Congressman Cummings experienced the realities of racism and bigotry, and dedicated his life to dismantling them for the benefit of us all. Congressman Cummings leaves behind a legacy challenging each of us to fight for a better tomorrow, especially for our nation’s most vulnerable people.”

“The death of Congressman Cummings is a huge loss for Maryland and all Americans,” Chesapeake Bay Foundation President William C. Baker said in a written statement. “He was a towering force for good, a champion of truth and justice for all, and a great friend and defender of the Chesapeake Bay. His wisdom and leadership will be sorely missed.”

U.S. Sen. Chris Van Hollen, D-Md., wrote: “At a time of chaos and division, our friend Elijah Cummings stood strong as a man of principle, unity, dignity, and compassion. His insatiable thirst for justice was rooted in his core. Maryland has lost a beloved son and our nation a hero of our times.”

U.S. Sen. Ben Cardin, D-Md., in a written statement, said he and Cummings “shared a city, an alma mater, a love of the law and a life of public service. I am deeply saddened by his passing, and my prayers today are with his family and loved ones — and the people of Baltimore.

“The death of Chairman Cummings leaves an irreplaceable void in our hearts, in our Maryland and in our Congress. Quite possibly no elected official mattered so much to his constituents. Chairman Cummings guaranteed a voice to so many who would otherwise not have one, and stood as a symbol for the heights one could reach if they paid no mind to obstacles, naysayers and hate. His commitment to his city and country was unwavering, as will be my lasting respect for him.”

@Kayla_StarDem

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