The entire nation should rightly be mourning the loss of Congressman Elijah E. Cummings, who died Oct. 17 at 68. He left us a life and legacy of public service and a clarion call to do better for the most vulnerable among us.
A Baltimore native, Cummings was the son of two former sharecroppers who worked hard to make sure their children would have a better life. Elijah, the third of seven children, excelled in every respect. He graduated from high school with honors, attended Howard University and obtained his law degree from the University of Maryland.
After practicing law for a decade, he served in the Maryland House of Delegates until 1996, when he was elected to represent the seventh district of Baltimore County in the United States House of Representatives.
Cummings was a ceaseless fighter for social justice. Some will remember him best as the leader of the demonstration protesting the police killing of Freddie Gray. Others will recall his 23 years of dedicated public service in the U.S. House, most recently in his role as chair of the House Oversight Committee and its inquiry into the Trump administration. The public surely remembers Cummings as he lambasted Kevin McAleenan, acting secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, with his now famous retort: “We’re better than that!”
Nothing moved Cummings more than a deep commitment to defend the most vulnerable in society, especially children. When he learned of immigrant children being separated from their parents, placed in detention camps — literally in cages — with infants and toddlers without even a change of diapers, he was “sickened and outraged.” We will surely miss Elijah Cummings.
College of Arts and Sciences,
University of Miami