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Son of sharecropper eulogized by presidents

In this image, two soldiers carry a coffin draped with the American flag through a crowd in the Capitol. A path has been cleared for them.
The casket of Rep. Elijah Cummings is carried through National Statuary Hall on Oct. 24. Photo: Al Drago-Pool/Getty Images

Rep. Elijah Cummings was born the son of a sharecropper, and died a leader of such regard that presidents delivered eulogies at his funeral.

The impact: In Baltimore, politicians and civil rights activists joined family and friends on Friday to honor the late congressman, who became the first African-American lawmaker to lie in state at the U.S. Capitol. He died last week at the age of 68.

  • Speaker Pelosi: "As the master of the House, he was also the mentor of the House. Was anybody in here being mentored by Elijah Cummings? I think so. [Applause] ... [It] was no surprise that when we won the Congress, Elijah said: 'Send me as many freshmen as you can, because I want to help them to be oriented for them to reach their fullest potential in the House of Representatives.'"
  • President Obama: "I remember I had the pleasure of meeting Elijah's mother, Ruth, and she told me she prayed for me every day, and I knew it was true, and I felt better for it. Sometimes people say they are praying for you, and you don’t know. They might be praying about you, but you don’t know if they are praying for you. But I knew Miss Ruth was telling the truth."
  • President Clinton: "[W]e should hear him now in the quiet times at night and in the morning, when we need courage, when we get discouraged ..."
    • "When the Lord asked, 'Whom shall I send, and who will go for me?,' Isaiah said, 'Here am I, Lord. Send me.' Elijah Cummings spent a whole life saying, 'Send me.' An entire lifetime. ... [T]he people of Baltimore sent him to Annapolis, and then you sent him to Washington. On behalf of the rest of the nation, I would like to thank you."
  • Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez: "In a Congress whose culture is preoccupied with seniority and tenure, Chairman Cummings was uniquely focused on the next generation. ... He never, ever let a person go unseen."
  • Hillary Clinton: “Like the prophet, our Elijah could call down fire from heaven. But he also prayed and worked for healing."

Go deeper ... In photos: The life and work of Rep. Elijah Cummings