Portrait of late Rep. Elijah Cummings unveiled at the Capitol

Rep. Joyce Beatty, D-Ohio, poses next to the unveiled official portrait of the late Congressman Elijah Cummings during a ceremony with House of Representatives on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, Sept. 14, 2022. ( AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana)

At portrait of the late Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) was unveiled at the Capitol on Wednesday.

Cummings, who was first elected to the House in 1996, died in October 2019 at the age of 68. He was serving as chairman of the powerful House Oversight and Reform Committee at the time of his death.

Baltimore-based artist Jerrell Gibbs painted Cummings’s portrait, which will hang in the Rayburn House Office Building’s Oversight and Reform Committee hearing room.

According to the office of Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), commissioning an official portrait is a customary honor for congressional lawmakers who serve as chairs of committees.

Cummings, who died during his 13th term in Congress, lay in state in the Capitol’s Statuary Hall. His office at the time said he died “due to complications concerning longstanding health challenges.”

The son of a sharecropper, Cummings was born on Jan. 18, 1951, in Baltimore. He graduated from Howard University and received a law degree from the University of Maryland. Before serving in Congress, the Maryland Democrat spent 13 years in the state House of Delegates.

Cummings was a frequent figure in the news in the weeks before his death for his involvement in the House impeachment inquiry focused on then-President Trump. As the chairman of the Oversight and Reform Committee, Cummings was one of the top three lawmakers leading the inquiry.

A number of lawmakers delivered remarks honoring Cummings at the portrait unveiling on Wednesday, including Pelosi, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) and House Majority Whip James Clyburn (D-S.C.).

“He was my Baltimore brother,” Pelosi, who was born in the Maryland city, said at the ceremony on Wednesday.

“He was so astute, so smart, so wise, so strategic and the rest, and that’s why he made such a big difference. He was a leader of towering integrity. Everybody knows that. A man whose life embodied the American dream,” Pelosi added, calling him “the north star of the House of Representatives.”

The Speaker noted that the room where the portrait unveiling took place is the same location where the Jan. 6 House select committee has held its public hearings.

“Elijah said, ‘When we’re dancing with the angels, when we’re dancing with the angels, what would we have thought that we could have done to make the future better for our children, for our democracy?’ That’s what they’re doing in this room. When we’re not honoring Elijah directly, we are indirectly for his patriotism,” she said.

The Speaker said she still has Cummings on her speed dial, adding, “I can’t separate myself.”

“I go to it frequently and just try to think of what he would be thinking of what is going on,” she added.

—Updated Thursday at 4:32 p.m.

Tags Elijah Cummings Nancy Pelosi

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