In a moving tribute to the Honorable Elijah Cummings, delivered by former President of the United States, Barack Obama, he reflected on the title; Honorable. “We’re supposed to introduce people who get elected to public office as honorable,” he said. “But Elijah Cummings was honorable before he was elected. There’s a difference the former President continued. There is a difference if you are honorable and treated others honorably outside of the limelight.” This was the essence of the Honorable Elijah E. Cummings.
Elijah Cummings, who was chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, represented his Maryland 7th District for 23 years and lived in an inner-city neighborhood affected by poverty and crime, became the first black elected official to lie in state in the Capitol. Cummings passed away Oct. 17 after medical complications. He entered Johns Hopkins Hospital in September and did not return to Congress.
According to his wife Maya, in a publicized statement,” the congressman worked until his last breath because he believed our democracy was the highest and best expression of our collective humanity and that our nation’s diversity was our promise, not our problem.”
In his eulogy the former President said Cummings will be remembered for his life devoted to serving the American people. Obama praised Cummings for his kindness and dedication as a congressman, describing him as a “leader who said he would die for his people, even as he lived every minute for them.”
“There is nothing weak about being honorable,” Obama said to the crowded church of mourners.
Several politicians also spoke at the Cummings funeral, including Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, and former President Bill Clinton.
After working as a lawyer, Cummings rose through the ranks in Maryland, first serving as a state delegate for 14 years, and then representing Maryland’s 7th Congressional District for the last 23 years. Cummings was known for his booming speeches and holding truth to power.
In elementary school, Cummings was told he was a poor learner and speaker. He went on, however, to become a lawyer, a politician and one of the fiercest orators in Congress. Over his nearly 40-year political career, Cummings fought for the rights of African-Americans, for stricter gun control laws, and for people struggling with addiction.
As chairman of the Oversight and Reform Committee, he was in the spotlight last year when he demanded personal finances and political documents from President Donald Trump.
Elijah Cummings, a son of sharecroppers, came from modest beginnings and died a towering politician. His voice and influence will be truly missed.