Former President Barack Obama delivered a eulogy today honoring Representative Elijah Cummings of Maryland, who died last week after a decades-long career in the House of Representatives. Cummings was known in Congress as a staunch defender of voting rights and for his perch as chair of the House Oversight Committee, which put him at the center of the impeachment inquiry now facing President Donald Trump. The widespread bipartisan adulation Cummings’s colleagues had for him was made clear yesterday, when he lay in state at the Capitol—the first African American lawmaker to be afforded that honor in the nation’s history.
Below, the full text of Obama’s remarks as delivered.
To the bishop, and the first lady, and the New Psalmist family, to the Cummings family, Maya, Mr. President, Madam Secretary, Madam Speaker, governor, friends, colleagues, staff.
The seed on good soil, the parable of the sower tells us, stands for those with a noble and good heart, who hear the word, retain it, and by persevering produce a crop. The seed on good soil.
Elijah Cummings came from good soil. And in this sturdy frame, goodness took root. His parents were sharecroppers from the South. They picked tobacco and strawberries, and then sought something better in this city, South Baltimore. Robert worked shifts at a plant, and Ruth cleaned other people’s homes. They became parents of seven, preachers to a small flock. 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.