Dr. Maya Rockeymoore Cummings, widow of the late Rep. Elijah Cummings, took the lead in remembering her husband during a funeral service at New Psalmist Baptist Church in Baltimore.
Rockeymoore Cummings called Chairman Elijah Cummings an “honorable man who proudly served his district and the nation with dignity, integrity, compassion and humility.”
“He worked until his last breath because he believed our democracy was the highest and best expression of our collective humanity. I loved him deeply and will miss him dearly,” Rockeymoore Cummings said.
Cummings’ daughter Jennifer said she never thought she’d lose her father so soon.
The congressman died this month at the age of 68.
“Thank you for teaching me the dual power of my beauty and my brilliance,” Jennifer Cummings said. “Dad wanted me to understand and appreciate my blackness and truly feel that my rich, brown skin was just as beautiful as alabaster or any shade of the rainbow.”
“Daddy, thank you for seeing me,” she said. “Thank you for loving me unconditionally.”
Cummings’ younger daughter, Adia, thanked her father’s staff members.
“The way that you loved my father means the world to me,” she said. “He believed in me and believed in my dreams as if they were already a reality. He was genuinely committed to my happiness at all times.”
Eulogies also were given by former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, which again showed that Cummings placed women in high esteem.
Many took the lead in praising the congressman and reminiscing about the impact he had on their lives.
“While there are so many fond memories that I have of Chairman Cummings, what I loved and admired most about him was his dignified and courageous leadership, and his fierce and unflinching advocacy for justice, civil rights, and equality,” said California Democratic Rep. Maxine Waters. “He loved his family, his community, and this nation deeply, and fought with every breath in his body to protect them — no matter the cost.”
D.C. Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton said those who called Cummings a close friend “will remember him for the irony of his commanding presence in a man with such a gentle spirit.”
“His tenacity in serving his district and the nation was always on display as he led the Oversight and Reform Committee with rare bipartisan support in today’s polarized Congress,” Norton said. “But Elijah’s service was never the full story. He held deep respect for, and maintained friendships with, Republican and Democratic members alike.”
Norton said she always will remember Cummings’ “unceasing and principled efforts towards statehood for the residents of the District of Columbia.” The District, his neighbor down the road from Baltimore, also held a special place in his heart after attending Howard University, she said.
“As the nation remembers Elijah Cummings, may we all seek to follow Elijah’s lead and example during these polarizing times,” Norton said.
Nicole Austin-Hillery, executive director of the U.S. Program for Human Rights Watch, said America has lost a hero at a time when they are in great demand but in short supply.
She paid tribute to Cummings, visiting the Capitol where the late chairman lie in state before his funeral.
“I couldn’t help but think about what the loss of Rep. Cummings means to democracy in the U.S. and what it says about the need for leaders who, despite immense criticism and personal attacks, push forward in an effort to do what is right to protect the interests of the nation’s most vulnerable,” Austin-Hillery said.
In a statement, Marcela Howell, founder and president of In Our Own Voice: National Black Women’s Reproductive Justice Agenda, said Cummings was a lifelong champion of human and civil rights.
“The son of sharecroppers, Rep. Cummings embodied the promise of the American dream while fighting the scourge of American racism. He worked his way out of poverty and into the halls of power, where he challenged the United States to live up to its promise of liberty and justice for all,” Howell said. “Rep. Cummings’ dedicated his life to public service, including serving 14 years in the Maryland House of Delegates and 23 years as the elected representative of the 7th Congressional District in Maryland.
“His principled leadership always looked to the future,” she said. “As a stalwart supporter of women’s rights, he also introduced legislation to put Harriet Tubman’s image on the $20 bill. He was also a staunch believer in fighting for today’s youth and ensuring that they would have more opportunities in their lives than their parents had.
“With his passing, Rep. Cummings leaves an enormous void in Congress,” Howell said. “His absence will be felt across the nation and around the world. Along with our heartfelt condolences, we send a promise to Elijah Cummings’ family and all who grieve his death: we will carry on Rep. Cummings’ work — even as we mourn.”