Members of Congress and the public joined together Thursday to honor Rep. Elijah Cummings as he lies in state at the U.S. Capitol.
The widely-respected congressman and civil rights leader is the first African American lawmaker to lie in state. Two other African-Americans — Rosa Parks and Jacob Chestnut, Jr. — have lain in honor, a tribute afforded to private citizens, according to records from the House’s archive.
Cummings died last week due to complications from health challenges.
Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images, FILE
Representative Elijah Cummings and chairman of the House Oversight Committee speaks during a National Press Club event in Washington, D.C., Aug. 7, 2019.
(MORE: Rep. Elijah Cummings, House Oversight Committee Chair, is dead at 68)
Cummings’ casket arrived at Statuary Hall inside the Capitol at 11:15 a.m. carried by the Sergeants at Arms as his family followed behind.
The room filled with members of Congress and Cummings family stood quietly only with the shutters of cameras interrupting the silence.
Some of Cummings family members hung their heads in tears as the casket lied surrounded by his colleagues within the rotunda.
Emanuel Cleaver of Missouri began the ceremony with a prayer “our hearts are heavy.. as our friend and family member Elijah Cummings transitions into the land of the unseen.”
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and Senate Majority leader Mitch McConnell spoke offering her condolences to Rep. Cummings family and reflected on his legacy in Congress.
“Elijah was truly a master of the House” Pelosi said.
The ceremony brought together members of Congress from both sides of the aisle. Democrats and Republicans came together to honor their close friend and colleague.
Rep. Mark Meadows shared of his close relationship with Rep. Cummings and spoke while holding back tears, “He’s defined by the character of this heart, the honesty of his dialogue and the man we will miss.”
Following a song from the Moragn State University Choir, Rep. Karen Bass, House Majority Whip James Clyburn, and House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer reflected on the kindness Cummings shared will all members of Congress.
Cummings’ casket and his family are expected to arrive at the Capitol at 10:30 a.m., Congressional leaders will make remarks, including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, as well as Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy.
Cummings’ family members and political dignitaries will speak at his funeral Friday at the New Psalmist Baptist Church in his hometown of Baltimore. Former Presidents Barack Obama and Bill Clinton are scheduled to speak at the funeral, followed by former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Pelosi.
The Washington Post via Getty Images, FILE
Rep. Elijah Cummings welcomes Senator and Presidential candidate Barack Obama to the stage as he addresses thousands of supporters on the campus of Prince George’s Community College.