In the midst of trouble and turmoil in our nation’s Capitol, a giant of a man, a fervent spokesman of equality for all and a representative of the state of Maryland quietly passed from this world. And the divisive infighting in Congress paused for a moment to honor a man who fought all his life for the best interests of the country.
“Mr. Cummings,” The New York Times reports (Oct. 17), “who was serving his 13th term in the House, had been in poor health. In recent years he had begun making his way around the Capitol in a motorized scooter and using a walker to steady himself. In 2017, he was in the hospital for two months after complications of a heart valve replacement, convinced, he told The New York Times in May, that he was ‘living on borrowed time.’ ”
Cummings’ courage, commitment, passion and service in Congress for more than 25 years was remembered by many.
“ ‘In the House, Elijah was our North Star,’ Ms. Pelosi said in a statement. ‘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.’ ”
However, it was Republican Mark Meadows who sat on the same House Oversight Committee where Cummings served as chairman who perhaps gave the most emotional tribute.
“He’s called a number of things — a father, a husband, friend, chairman. For me, I was privileged enough to be able to call him a dear friend,” Meadows said.
“Some have classified it as an unexpected friendship, but for those of us that know Elijah,” he continued, “it’s not unexpected or surprising.”
“Perhaps this place and this country would be better served with a few more unexpected friendships,” he said. “I know I’ve been blessed by one.”
“His voice could shake mountains, stir the most cynical hearts, inspiring us all to be better,” Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said.
“Elijah Cummings never forgot where he came from,” Schumer continued, “and never lost sight of where he wanted his country to go.”
“Ebony Majette, 28, a congressional staffer who attended the public visitation after the tribute, said she wouldn’t be in her current job if not for Cummings,” Afro.com reported (Oct. 24).
“The footprints that he has left for African Americans are monumental,” Majette said. “His journey has definitely started a journey for myself.”
In a message to president Trump last May, Cummings said, “I want to send a message that we have one life to live, Mr. President. This is no dress rehearsal. And that the American people simply want to live their lives without fear of their leaders. And we, as leaders, have a duty and a responsibility to keep our promise to them when we ran for office and won — and that is to make their lives better. While we’re all on this earth, that’s my message.”
A devoutly religious man, if there is perhaps one piece of biblical wisdom that Elijah Cummings could impart to his Republican brethren at this moment of historic division, it might come from Proverbs 11:29:
“He that troubleth his own house shall inherit the wind.”