Elijah Cummings to be remembered by Obama, Clintons at funeral – USA TODAY
‘He was a good man’
Thousands stood outside for hours in brisk, 50-degree weather, waiting to pay respects to Rep. Elijah Cummings, who died Oct. 17 at age 68.
The line snaked throughout the front of New Psalmist Baptist Church in Baltimore, where Cummings’ funeral was held Friday. The church holds a maximum of 4,000 people, and employees warned that many would not be able to get inside.
The ceremony, which will include remembrances by former Presidents Barack Obama and Bill Clinton, started at 10 a.m. EST.
Mary Roary told her friend Carla Fennell that she hoped she had enough tissues as the pair waited to say goodbye to Cummings, who represented parts of Baltimore in Congress for 23 years.
The women both had fond memories of the longtime congressman, including once when Fennell says Cummings helped her, a single mother, find a job.
“He was a good man. It’s clear from looks at this line,” she said motioning toward the massive number of people in line.
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His death, both women said, is bringing together people during a moment in history where Americans and politicians couldn’t be more divided.
“He has always had this way of bringing people together and he’s doing it even after death,” Roary said. “This shows us we all don’t have an endless amount of time on this earth.”
Outside the church, a massive American flag was hoisted up by two fire truck ladders.
Visitors walking into the Baptist church we’re greeted by church elders and pastors welcoming each person. Many took photos of a large blanket with Cummings’ face and an American flag that was hung up just outside the hall.
Many swayed or sang along with their arms raised in the air to Baptist worship music and traditional hymns.
As a video played documenting Cummings’ life, from his time as young boy to his career in Washington, many grabbed tissues to wipe their eyes.
WASHINGTON – Rep. Elijah Cummings’ legacy and life will continue to be honored Friday morning, as former Presidents Barack Obama and Bill Clinton and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton are set to speak at the late-congressman’s funeral.
Cummings laid in state in Statuary Hall Thursday, making him the the first black lawmaker to do so in the Capitol. Cummings, who represented portions of Baltimore, died last week at 68 due to complications related to longstanding health issues.
In addition to Obama and the Clintons, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and former Rep. Kweisi Mfume, who Cummings succeeded in a special election in 1996, will give remarks at Cummings’ funeral.
The funeral will be held at the New Psalmist Baptist Church, where the late-congressman worshiped for nearly 40 years. A public viewing will take place at 8 a.m. ET and the funeral will take place at 10 a.m.
Obama spokeswoman Katie Hill said in a tweet Wednesday night that the former president was asked by Cummings’ widow, Maya Rockeymoore Cummings, to “deliver remarks about the remarkable life and legacy of one of this country’s finest public servants.” Cummings was an early supporter of Obama’s 2008 presidential run and was personal friends with the former president.
Obama said in a statement following Cummings death last week that the Maryland Democrat showed the “necessity of good people stewarding” the checks and balances within the United States’ democracy.
“Steely yet compassionate, principled yet open to new perspectives, Chairman Cummings remained steadfast in his pursuit of truth, justice and reconciliation,” Obama said in the statement. “It’s a tribute to his native Baltimore that one of its own brought such character, tact and resolve into the halls of power every day.”
Bill Clinton in a statement last week said Cummings “was a resounding voice of moral courage who fought the good fights for the people of Baltimore.” In a statement last week, Hillary Clinton said Cummings was “a man of principle who championed truth, justice and kindness. He fiercely loved his country and the people he served.”
Friday’s funeral follows several days of memorials for Cummings. Mourners paid respects to Cummings on Wednesday as his body lay in repose at Morgan State University, a historically black college in Cummings’ district. He served on the school’s Board of Regents for 19 years.
On Thursday morning, family, friends and lawmakers on both sides of the aisle gathered on Capitol Hill to pay tribute.
Pelosi, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and Rep. Mark Meadows were among several attendees who made remarks Thursday.
Meadows, R-N.C., passionately described his friendship with Cummings, his eyes glistening as he held back tears.
“Some had classified it as an unexpected friendship,” Meadows said of their bipartisan relationship in a highly partisan era. “But for those of that know Elijah, it’s not unexpected.”
Cummings casket was open to the public to view following the memorial service. Hundreds lined up Thursday afternoon to say their final goodbyes to the late-congressman.
Members of the public are paying their respects to the late Maryland Rep. Elijah Cummings, as his body lies in state outside the House chamber where he served for 23 years. (Oct. 24)
Contributing: William Cummings