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Democrats, Republicans, Presidents and Paupers Remembered Elijah Cummings by Hamil R. Harris



October 28, 2019

Democrats, Republicans, Presidents and Paupers Remembered Elijah Cummings
By Hamil R. Harris

Maya Rockeymoore-Cummings speaks in remembrance of her husband Elijah Cummings at New Psalmist Baptist Church where they worshipped in West Baltimore.
applause for president obama
President Barack Obama is applauded by the audience as Cummings widow, Maya Rockeymoore-Cummings tells of how proud the Congressman was to be his friend and supporter.

President Barack Obama speaks at the funeral of Congressman Cummings, held at New Psalmist Baptist Church in West Baltimore. President and Secretary Clinton also attended.

( - He was a member of the United States Congress who was a hero on the streets of Baltimore. He was son of sharecroppers who became a political father of two Presidents. He once chaired the Congressional Black Caucus but at his death Republicans on Capitol Hill expressed deep regret for losing a dear friend.

And so it was appropriate for President’s Barack Obama, Bill Clinton and a large chorus of political leaders to come to West Baltimore Friday to cry, to pray and to celebrate the life of Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) whose career of service extended far from the residents of the 7th Congressional District and his memory will last much longer than his 68 years of life.

“Elijah Cummings came from good soil. Goodness took root. His father worked in a plant. His mother cleaned rooms,” President Barack Obama told more than 4,000 people who attended Cummings funeral capped three days of tributes that began at, extended to the United States Capitol and concluded at New Psalmist Baptist Church in West Baltimore.

At a time when the media is consumed with allegations of wrongdoing and the possible impeachment of President Donald Trump, the three days of tribute for Cummings, was a welcomed reminder of a time past when hard work and dignity was a hall mark for leadership.

The tributes began early Thursday as members of the Morgan State University Army ROTC brought Cummings blue casket into the Carl F. Murphy Fine Arts Center on the campus. The public and students got the chance to view Cummings all day until 5 pm when the Most Worshipful Prince Hall Grand Lodge of Maryland, Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity, and the Sigma Pi Phi Fraternity, Gamma Boule honored him that was followed by more than 27 elected leaders that ranged from Baltimore Mayor Jack Young to Maryland two United States Senators.

“It was quite sad that we got to meet him for a second time under these circumstances,” said Brittany Johnson, a senior Multi-Media Journalism Major. “Many of us who witnessed his speech during our 2019 graduation are extra lucky and blessed to be in his presence one last time.”

The Prince Hall masons were posted on each side of Cummings casket all day and throughout the tribute at Morgan most of the tributes were so very personal and included high school friends, community leaders, city and state officials and Maryland’s lawmakers in Congress,

“We have lost a giant in out country,” said retired US Senator Barbara Mikulski who was among 27 Maryland leaders to honor Cummings Thursday night. Senator Ben Cardin called Cummings, “a champion of social justice,” and Senator Chris Van Hollen, “We thank God for the gift that was the journey of Elijah Cummings.”

Maryland State Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller, who is stepping down from his post because he is being treated for prostrate cancer, stood in front of the stage instead of coming to the podium. He simply said, “thank you for being my friend.”

The audience stood to their feet in response to reflections from Maya Rockeymoore-Cummings, the widow of the Congressman. 

"I want you all to know that it was not easy," she said. "What Congressman Chairman Cummings did was not easy. And while he carried himself with grace and dignity in all public forums, it hurt him because one thing you do not know about Congressman Cummings, he was a man of soul and spirit. He felt very deeply. He was very impathetic. It was one of his greatest gifts. And it was one of his sources to be a public servant and a man of the people."

Congressman Elijah E. Cummings was born and raised in Baltimore, Maryland, where he resided until his death. He obtained his Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science from Howard University, serving as Student Government President and graduating Phi Beta Kappa. He later graduated from the University of Maryland School of Law. Congressman Cummings also received 13 honorary doctoral degrees from universities throughout the nation.

One of the most touching tributes was from of his best friends Larry Gibson who Cummings called his mentor because they attended high school together, Baltimore City College. Former Mayor Stephany Rawlings Blake, Maryland Mosby and dozens of speakers talked about Cummings did so much for their careers.

Congressman Cummings began his career of public service in the Maryland House of Delegates, where he served for 14 years and became the first African American in Maryland history to be named Speaker Pro Tempore. From 1996 until 2019, he Maryland’s 7th Congressional District in the U.S. House of Representatives, where his voting record reflected his deep allegiance to the Constitution and Bill of Rights.

The Congressman often said that his vote for the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) in 2010 was the most important he ever cast. In 2014, he fought to include prostate cancer in the Compassionate Allowances listing allowing the Social Security Administration to cover medications, medical procedures, and provide financial support for men who can no longer work and provide a living for themselves and their families. Over one million men have benefitted from this policy.

While Cummings is well known for chairing the House Committee on Oversight and Reform, he also fought President Trump on many fronts especially protecting immigrant children which sparked President Trumps attacks on him and Baltimore.

Ironically, Cummings was one of the first Congressional Black Caucus members to meet Trump in the White House after he was elected to talk about lowering prescription drugs. One of his final acts as Chairman was to sign subpoenas for documents related to the Administration’s policy to deport critically ill children.

On Thursday, lawmakers on both sides of the political aisle, paused to receive the flag draped casket that was brought up the west front of the US. Capitol by a military honor guard. Vice President Pence, Senate President Mitch McConnell and

other top Republican lawmakers gathered in Statuary Hall. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi referred to the fallen Congressman as “Our Dear Elijah.”

Cummings becomes the first African American lawmaker to lie in state at the US Capitol. While many members of Congress spoke the biggest message was never spoken. It was the sight of an endless line citizens from across the country who came to Capitol Hill to silently paid their respects.

On Friday Bishop Walter Scott Thomas Sr. welcome a line of people into New Psalmist that formed at 4:30 AM. The church organist played the great songs of the church punctuated by the music of Bee Bee Winans and the words of many powerful speakers.

Whether it was from two Presidents, a former Secretary of State, his family, church members or even his pastor, the dominant theme was that Elijah Cummings was indeed a prophet who loved and cared for people and they were grateful.

As they waited for a commuter train at Baltimore’s Penn Station, Art and Diana Cohen, said they felt lucky to get into the church after waiting in line for a few hours. The Baltimore lawyer and community leader said, “Elijah Cummings brought many, many people together.”

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