Presidents and Family Mourn a 'Fierce Champion'

Obama, Clintons honor the life of Elijah Cummings
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Oct 25, 2019 4:37 PM CDT
Presidents and Family Mourn a 'Fierce Champion'
Maya Rockeymoore Cummings speaks at the funeral service for her husband, Rep. Elijah Cummings, on Friday.   (Lloyd Fox/The Baltimore Sun via AP, Pool)

Rep. Elijah Cummings was eulogized as a leader with the fiery moral conviction of an Old Testament prophet Friday at a funeral that brought former presidents and ordinary people alike to the Baltimore church where the congressman worshipped for four decades. "Our Elijah was a fierce champion of truth, justice and kindness in every part of his life," said Hillary Clinton, who took the stage at the New Psalmist Baptist Church to rousing applause, the AP reports. Cummings, a black sharecropper's son and civil rights leader who rose to power in Washington over two decades ago with his sonorous voice and powerful oratory, died of longstanding health problems Oct. 17 at age 68 while locked in political combat with President Trump. The Democrat led multiple investigations of the president, who recently lashed out at Cummings' Baltimore district as a "disgusting, rat and rodent infested mess" where "no human being would want to live."

The turmoil on Capitol Hill seemed close at hand. Cummings' widow, Maya Rockeymoore Cummings, told the crowd that Trump's jabs hurt her husband. Without mentioning the president by name, she said her husband's job became "infinitely more difficult in the last months of his life when he sustained personal attacks and attacks on his beloved city." Former President Bill Clinton said, "We all know now that, at least until certain things happen, his legacy is how ardently he honored his oath to protect and defend the Constitution of the United States." Former President Barack Obama recalled Cummings' humble beginnings, saying, "His life validates the things we tell ourselves about what's possible in this country, not guaranteed, but possible." Trump offered condolences to the Cummings family in a speech Friday in South Carolina. A mourner waiting in line outside said Cummings "believed in helping people, particularly people that were downtrodden. He stood up. He spoke for them." (The sharecropper's son became a force in Congress.)

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