One day after hundreds gathered in celebration and to pay their last respects to Rep. Elijah Cummings, the highly respected congressman’s body will now lie in state at the U.S. Capitol.
According to congressional historians, Cummings appears to be the first Black lawmaker to lie in state in the U.S. Capitol, CNN reports.
To lie in state is typically a tribute reserved for government officials and military officers. Lying in honor is for private citizens, and two Blacks have been given that distinction: Rosa Parks and Officer Jacob J. Chestnut Jr., a Capitol Police officer killed in the line of duty, CNN reports.
Cummings spent more than 20 years as a public servant, and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s office released a statement on Friday (October 18) to announce that the highly revered congressman would lie in state on Thursday (October 25).
“In the House, Elijah was our North Star,” Speaker Pelosi said after his passing on October 17.
“He was a leader of towering character and integrity, whose stirring voice and steadfast values pushed the Congress and country to rise always to a higher purpose,” she said. “His principled leadership as Chair of the Committee on Oversight and Reform was the perfect testament to his commitment to restoring honesty and honor to government, and leaves a powerful legacy for years to come.”
The private ceremony, set to begin at 11 a.m. at the National Statuary Hall in Washington, D.C., will be held for members of Congress and Cummings’ relatives.
It will feature music from the Morgan State Choir, which also performed during the celebration on Wednesday (October 23).
Others set to attend and speak are Nancy Pelosi, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer, House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn, Maryland Senator Ben Cardin as well as the Chair of the Congressional Black Caucus, Rep. Karen Bass and Reps. Mark Meadows of North Carolina and Emanuel Cleaver of Missouri.
Following the private ceremony, Cummings’ body will be brought to the Capitol Visitor Center from 1 p.m. to 7 p.m. for the public.
Baltimore Mayor Bernard C. “Jack” Young made a statement after Cummings’ passing, saying, “the City of Baltimore, our country, and people throughout the world have lost a powerful voice and one of the strongest and most gifted crusaders for social justice.”
(Photo: Earl Gibson III/Getty Images)