It couldn’t have been easy growing up in South Baltimore with the name Elijah. His was the name of one of the major prophets from the Bible. The biblical Elijah performed major miracles. He defended the worship of the Lord God against those who preferred the craven idol, Baal. He brought fire down from the sky. In hindsight, Elijah Cummings resembled the prophet in many ways. Biblical Elijah confronted the King over his idolatry. Modern-day Elijah confronted the would-be king over the same. And when he spoke, he often brought fire from the sky in pointing out the inhumanity and indecency of various situations. Cummings embraced diversity and wished that others did the same.
“Many Americans yearn for the day when we stop fighting each other & realize that diversity is our promise — not our problem.”
Elijah Cummings had multiple causes. When it came down to it, they were all related to fighting for the equality of all people. He believed in the things he felt America stood for; voting rights, education as a means of liberation, streets safe from gun violence. He was far more an advocate of things positive but he could denounce injustice with the best of them.
“We must also stop the hateful incendiary comments, we got to do it. Those in the highest levels of the government must stop invoking fear, using racist language and encouraging reprehensible behavior. It only creates more division among us and severely limits our ability to work together for the common good. As a country, we finally must say enough is enough. That we are done with the hateful rhetoric. That we are done with the mass shootings. That we are done with white supremacists, domestic terrorists, who terrorizing in our country and fighting against everything America stands for.”
Elijah Cummings was a man worthy of emulation. Although he rose in power, he maintained the values that got him there. When he left the corridors of the Capitol or the White House in Washington DC. He returned home each night to his Baltimore home and his wife Maya Rocleymore Cummings. Though a powerful man; Chairman of the Oversight Committee, he was also a humble man who looked for the common ground even with political foes.
In a recent hearing, he disclosed that one of his closest friends in Congress was Republican Mark Meadows with whom it would seem he had little in common. Cummings was one of the first to reach across the aisle even as he rose in leadership among Democrats in Congress. He never forgot why he was there, however. To represent his District and his people, always the civil rights champion he was in his youth.
“Americans of our own time — minority and majority Americans alike — need the continued guidance that the Voting Rights Act provides. We have come a long way, but more needs to be done.”
Elijah Cummings believed in America. A country still struggling to reach its full potential. Elijah saw what America could be, fighting to rid it of its flaws. He was a man of action, not content with hopes and prayers as the best we can offer. When he had the gavel in his hand when chairing his committee in Congress. He recognized the rights of the minority party, even when at times they had no purpose but to hinder the oversight they were supposed to be about. Cummings had the unique ability to cut through all the political charades and put the focus where it belonged. We as a country didn’t always live up to what Elijah believed we could and should be. There’s no question we can do better than this, much better.
“We are better than this. We really are,” he said. “As a country, we are so much better than this.”
Elijah Eugene Cummings (January 18, 1951 — October 17, 2019