Rest in Power: Fighting on for Elijah Cummings’ American Dream

Today, we all mourn the passing of U.S. Rep. Elijah Cummings, a lifelong champion of human and civil rights.

The son of sharecroppers, Rep. Cummings embodied the promise of the American Dream while fighting the scourge of American racism. He worked his way out of poverty and into the halls of power, where he challenged the United States to live up to its promise of liberty and justice for all.

Rep. Cummings dedicated his life to public service, including serving 14 years in the Maryland House of Delegates and 23 years as the elected representative of the 7th congressional district in Maryland. His principled leadership always looked to the future. He was a staunch believer in fighting for today’s youth and ensuring that they would have more opportunities in their lives than their parents had. As a stalwart supporter of women’s rights, he also introduced legislation to put Harriet Tubman’s image on the $20 bill.

With his passing, Rep. Cummings leaves an enormous void in Congress. His absence will be felt across the nation and around the world. Along with our heartfelt condolences, we send a promise to his family and all who grieve his death: We will carry on Rep. Cummings’ work—even as we mourn. His life has ended, but his light will continue to shine.

We are inspired by his words: “From my own life experience, I can attest that we have come a long way toward universal justice in this country, but we are not there yet.” We promise to pick up his mantle and continue his fight for universal justice.

There is no better way to honor his memory than to keep his dream alive.


Marcela Howell is the founder and president of In Our Own Voice: National Black Women’s Reproductive Justice Agenda and the former senior policy and communications consultant for Communications Consortium Media Center and vice president of policy, communications and marketing at Advocates for Youth. She has a master's in literature from Saint Louis University and a J.D. from Pepperdine School of Law. You can follow Marcela on Twitter at @BlackWomensRJ.