WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. House Majority Whip James E. Clyburn honored his dear friend Elijah E. Cummings with remarks at a service held today for the late Congressman at the U.S. Capitol. Below are his remarks:
As Prepared for Delivery
In the 6th Chapter and 8th verse of his Old Testament book, the prophet Micah admonishes that the Lord requires us to “do justly, act mercifully and walk humbly.” Elijah Eugene Cummings personified this directive in his service, and in the core of his being.
Elijah had a passion for justice; justice for those who are underserved, justice for those who are undercut, and justice for those who are underestimated. He himself had been grossly underestimated at a very early point in his development, and as a result had been placed in special education but was rescued by a teacher who saw that the only thing special about Elijah was his inquisitiveness. He and I often talked about the passion we shared about being called to rescue as many others as God would give us courage and strength to do.
Elijah understood Micah’s admonition that sometimes justice – even when dispersed equally – might not always be the proper course of action. And in such instances, we are called upon to be merciful. Elijah was merciful and he showed it with grace and kindness. Elijah often uttered soaring precepts, but he led by shining example. He knew how to balance firmness and fairness. He did not speak very often in our Caucus meetings, but when he did, it was usually to bring people together.
Elijah and I often talked about the humbleness of our shared roots in South Carolina soil, and our experiences growing up as PKs, preachers’ kids. Neither one of us sought to follow our fathers into the ministry, but both of us felt strongly in my father’s admonition to me, which I shared with Elijah on several occasions that, “the world would much rather see a sermon than hear one.”
Elijah’s service was a soaring, instructive sermon; and today – I have no doubt that – he is dancing with the angels and wishing us Godspeed as we pursue the making of a more perfect Union: establishing justice, employing mercy and walking humbly; never doing or saying anything to deserve his admonishment that, “we are better than that.”