Maya R. Cummings on how Trump’s words impacted Elijah Cummings’ final days

Maya Rockeymoore Cummings explains why she decided to run for her late husband’s congressional seat and how she found strength after his passing.
6:37 | 01/20/20

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Transcript for Maya R. Cummings on how Trump’s words impacted Elijah Cummings’ final days
I approve this message. People say, oh, you're just messing with the president because you don't like him. It's not about not liking the president, it's about loving democracy, and I'm begging, I'm begging the American people to pay attention to what is going on. Because if you want to have a democracy intact for your children and your children's children and generations yet unborn, we have got to guard this moment. This is our watch. That was Maryland congressman Elijah Cummings who brought such passion and spirit to the house floor during his lifetime of fighting for justice. He was known as the conscience of congress. After we tragically lost him just three months ago he became the first black lawmaker to lie in state, and right now his widow shares his mission to continue his legacy in congress. Please welcome Maya rockeymoore Cummings. You know, he was a lifelong advocate for civil rights from the time he was 11 years old. He was involved in creating change over the course of his life. What is the thing that stands out for you that was just stunning that he got done? So he was a very empathetic man. He grew up in a segregated Baltimore and so he knew what it was like for Americans, history of hatred to influence and depress the opportunities for a whole generation of people just be cause ofkin color. And he was determined that he was going to live his life in a way that opens doors for everyone. So he fought for voting rights. He fought for access to health he fought to make sure that our democracy was left intact for generations in the future. When we think about civil rights heros, we certainly think about congressman Cummings and his dear friend, John Lewis, who I think everyone was saddened to hear is battling pancreatic cancer. Do you feel optimistic about the next generation of change-makers and their ability to have that kind of impact of those two lions? So, Elijah and I were very, very, very -- we felt like this was our zero moment as a nation, that we have to make sure that we're all on the battlefield fighting for our future, and so while it does not look good in terms of president trump and the Republicans, what they're doing to try to take us back 100 years in this country, the fact of the matter is that people are rising up all across the country. They are saying that we will not be oppressed. You will not take our democracy away from us. We have hoards of women who are running to take office. We have young people who are standing up and speaking out. So I'm a part of that van guard of people who are seeking to build on the legacy left by Elijah Cummings and I'm actually working to run for congress myself. Good. Good for you. So congressman Cummings remained formidable until the very end, this man. Just incredible, just that clip we just saw of him, the passion that he brought to the job, you don't see it a lot. And that voice. And that voice. It got me from the very beginning. So he chaired the house oversight committee and was one of the leaders in the impeachment effort against trump which trump did not appreciate. He characterized congressman Cummings' Baltimore section as rat infested. Did it hurt him? It hurt him deeply. Because he attacked Baltimore. Absolutely and it hurt him at his worst moment. Elijah was already battling health issues so to have the president come out and do this at that time, you know, it really depressed him and it stressed him and I think it undermined his health. That is horrific. It is. That is horrific. I'm sorry, that is just -- that is hard to hear. I'm sorry. It was our reality. I'm so sorry for your family. Absolutely. And all of his minions out there, nasty tweets, death threats, you name it, we were going through it. It's just hard to hear. I'm deeply sorry. It's very hard to hear that. But you know -- That's why I'm responding like this. I didn't know that and I'm deeply sorry for your family, but you are running for his congressional seat and I think it's incredible you're doing that just given that you have the internal strength. I don't think I could have run for anything three months after my dad died and I think it's amazing you're doing that. So what made you do that, and was Elijah supportive? Absolutely. Elijah met me on capitol hill. I was already in the fight when we met. And then we developed a deep friendship and then it blossomed into a romance and a marriage, so we fought together for a very long time and he expected me to continue the fight. On several occasions he told me that he thought that I should, you know, run for his seat. I never wanted to engage that conversation because, you know, that meant that he wouldn't be here. And so that being said, you know, he passed away on October 17. I buried him on October 25. On November 13 I announced my run for congress and on November 15 I actually had a preventative double mastectomy. Oh, my god. Your strength. Why was it important to you to have a preventative double mastectomy? So, my mother died of stage four breast cancer in 2015 and my sister last year was diagnosed with stage two, so I knew it was just a matter of time before it hit me. I felt like I had two ticking time bombs sitting on my chest. So what I wanted to do is I wanted to actually make sure that I could do everything in my power to delay the inevitable perhaps but also to prevent it. You are a warrior. Yes. You are a warrior. Like your husband. That's -- you know, that's what folks -- the old folks used to call getting it done. I'm so proud of you. I'm so proud that you're doing our thanks to Maya rockeymoore Cummings.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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