Two former presidents, powerful Democratic lawmakers and thousands of others joined together Friday to celebrate the life of Elijah Cummings, the Democratic congressman from Baltimore who died last week.

Cummings was a civil rights advocate who represented Maryland’s 7th district from 1996 until his death. The New Psalmist Baptist Church in Lochearn seats 4,000 and is expected to be “overflowing.”

Both Barack Obama and Bill Clinton offered moving eulogies, praising the congressman’s work.

“We should hear him now in the quiet times at night and in the morning when we need courage, when we get discouraged and we don’t know if we can believe anymore,” Clinton said.

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In his last months as the chairman of the House Oversight Committee, Cummings had fiercely challenged President Donald Trump and helped lead the impeachment investigation.

Obama, who spoke at the behest of Cumming’s wife, told the story of a remarkable man who never shied away from fighting injustice.

“His parents were sharecroppers from the South. They picked tobacco and strawberries, and then sought something better in this city, South Baltimore,” Obama said, saying that his background helped create his passion for equal rights.

“Elijah became a lawyer to make sure that others had rights, and his people had their God-given rights, and from the statehouse to the House of Representatives, his commitment to justice and the rights of others would never, ever waver,” Obama continued.

“He was never complacent, for he knew that without clarity of purpose and a steadfast faith, and the dogged determination demanded by our liberty, the promise of this nation can wither. Complacency, he knew, was not only corrosive for our collective lives, but for our individual lives,” he said.

Cummings passed away on Oct. 17 at the age of 68 after a lengthy battle against cancer.

Trump had been extremely critical of Cummings in recent months, but shifted his tone after his passing to express his condolences and praise his “strength, passion and wisdom.”

Maya Rockeymoore Cummings, his widow and the chairwoman of the Maryland Democratic Party, did not explicitly name Trump during her speech but said that her husband’s job had become “infinitely more difficult” as he “sustained personal attacks and attacks on his beloved city.”

Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-California) also spoke at the funeral.

“It is no coincidence that Elijah shared a name with an Old Testament prophet. Like that Old Testament prophet he stood against the corrupt leadership of King Ahab and Queen Jezebel,” Hillary Clinton said. “Our Elijah was a huge champion for truth, justice and kindness in every part of his life.”

Pelosi commended his ability to work with people in both parties saying, “Our Elijah always made a seat at the table for others.”

Rep. Mark Meadows (R-North Carolina) considered Cummings to be “a dear friend,” despite their political differences.


“This place and this country would be better served with a few more unexpected friendships. I know I’ve been blessed by one,” Meadows said Thursday.

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