BALTIMORE (AP) — Mourners, constituents and other well-wishers paid respects to U.S. Rep. Elijah Cummings on Wednesday as his body lay in repose at a historically black college in Baltimore ahead of the first in a series of services.
A tan hearse with a U.S. House of Representatives seal carrying Cummings’ body arrived Wednesday morning at Morgan State University’s Murphy Fine Arts Center. A group of mourners led by Cummings’ widow, Maya Rockeymoore, followed pallbearers who wheeled the black casket with silver trimmings into the building.
The auditorium opened to the public shortly after 10 a.m. and a large group of people waiting in line began to file through.
Katrina Hutton, who lives in Baltimore, came out of the viewing area with tears in her eyes.
“He’s always been there for us and supported us,” she said. “No scandal. He’s been forthright with everything he’s done for us.”
Flowers were laid outside the arts center, including an arrangement from the university’s president that included a note with the message, “Congressman Cummings was a great man and will be truly missed.”
The Maryland congressman and civil rights champion died Thursday at age 68 of complications from long-standing health issues.
The university is in Cummings’ congressional district, and he served on its Board of Regents for 19 years. Following the public viewing that was to last until 5 p.m., a tribute service was to feature remarks from Rockeymoore, U.S. Rep. John Sarbanes and Baltimore Mayor Bernard “Jack” Young.
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Cummings’ body will lie in state on Thursday in the National Statuary Hall of the U.S. Capitol. A wake and funeral for Cummings is planned for Friday at New Psalmist Baptist Church in Baltimore, where the congressman worshipped for nearly four decades.
A sharecropper’s son, Cummings went on to become a lawyer and elected official, most recently leading one of the U.S. House committees conducting an impeachment inquiry of President Donald Trump. He was also known as a powerful orator and passionate advocate for the poor in his Baltimore-area district.