LYNCHBURG, Va. (WFXR) — Congressman Elijah Cummings died early this morning of longstanding health problems at the age of 68.
The loss is being felt across the country, including here in our area.
“You stand on the shoulders of strong people,” said Lynchburg Mayor Treney Tweedy, Lynchburg’s first female African-American mayor.
For Tweedy, Elijah Cummings was influential.
“To see African-Americans, other persons of color, whether they are male or female take that path into the leadership role is very important, and so you start to think, ‘Well maybe I can do that.’”
She saw Cummings as a champion for all.
“Folks recognize him for pushing for change and for supporting legislation that was beneficial to all folks.”
He’s largely remembered as a champion for his hometown of Baltimore and his tireless work in the civil rights movement
“We mourn his loss, because he was a truly active civil rights figure in this nation, and he was able to use that platform in Congress,” said Carl Hutcherson, Jr., a former mayor of Lynchburg and current President of the Lynchburg branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP).
For Hutcherson, who met Cummings on a few occasions, the legacy Cummings leaves behind goes beyond policy.
“There is so much division in America today,” he said, “and Elijah Cummings was one of those persons who not only taught but lived unity in this county, and I’m hoping that we can become more unified and think about people like him.”
That spirit of unity is clear.
Former Congressman Dave Brat, a Republican, called Democrat Elijah Cummings a friend and a giant for civil rights.
“He had principles of humanity embedded in him that are transcendent,” said Brat, “and that’s the way he related to people. So he was a true friend, just a great human being, and just fun to be around.”
Elected officials across Virginia offered their condolences: