December 4, 2023

Rep. Elijah Cummings, center, D-Md, walks with community leaders to help clear the crowd ahead of a curfew Friday, May 1, 2015, in Baltimore. (AP Photo/David Goldman)

Elijah Cummings loved black folks before you could be verified on Twitter for loving black folks or get love likes on Facebook because you wrote a post about loving black folks. Elijah Cummings loved black folks in in 1950’s and 60’s segregated Baltimore, Maryland, where he was born and raised. He was raised to love black folks because Baltimore showed Elijah Cummings first hand that black folks needed to be loved. In elementary school, Cummings was part of a group of black folks who helped to integrate swimming pools in Baltimore, an experience in which he would encounter white folks pelting black folks with rocks and bottles. And as he watched black folks suffer from the imbalanced scales of justice aka the American Criminal Justice System, this inspired Elijah Cummings to go to law school, which of course led to him becoming an attorney who could defend the rights of black folks. This love for black folks combined with being an attorney allowed Elijah Cummings to journey to the Maryland House of Delegates, where he served for 14 years and became the first African American in Maryland history to be named Speaker Pro Tem.

Portrait of politician and Maryland congressional representative Elijah Cummings sitting on a bench, 1975. (Photo by Afro American Newspapers/Gado/Getty Images)

After this, he took his love for black folks to the national level, where Elijah Cummings would eventually love black folks on Capitol Hill, a place where black folks don’t find much love. But he loved black folks, anyway. He hired black folks in his office. He spoke to black folks from one of the highest elected positions in the nation. But he also made friends with people more powerful than him so his networking could get to the black folks who needed it the most. He walked this black utopian lane of being unapologetically black while moving around effortlessly in an unapologetically white world. Furthermore, he loved black folks despite that building where bills are made and funds are allocated not loving black folks, not even the “good” black folks.

Long before he steadfastly led the impeachment fight against Donald Trump, Congressman Cummings’ love for black folks resonated through the halls of Congress. Serving as a member, ranking minority member, and Chair of the Committee on Oversight and Reform, Cummings fought everyday for justice, transparency, equality, equity and, most importantly, Baltimore. He said fuck you to those who thought Baltimore was a “rat and rotten infested mess.” And he said fuck you with such a resounding grace, that the same person who he said fuck you to stated, “I got to see first hand the strength, passion and wisdom of this highly respected political leader. His work and voice on so many fronts will be very hard, if not impossible, to replace!”

Little did this person know, Elijah Cummings reportedly signed subpoenas (involving impeachment proceedings on the person he said fuck you to) hours before his death. Congressman Cummings was petty like that, and black folks loved that about him, too. Elijah Cummings loved black folks without condition. He loved black folks despite sometimes black folks in his district not loving other black folks because he knew, even before expensive studies were done to prove the extent of systemic racism, Elijah Cummings knew systemic racism fucked over the same black folks he loved. He maintained this love for black folks throughout his entire life, even if it meant going against the city he loved when the city he loved killed Freddie Gray. Because regardless of how much he loved the city of Baltimore, he loved black folks so much more.

America will miss Elijah Cummings, the Congressman. Black folks will miss Elijah Cummings, the man.

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