Elijah E. Cummings Room Dedication Ceremony CSPAN March 3, 2020 12:35pm-1:14pm EST
coverage for one simple reason. it is c-span. we brought you your unfiltered view of government everyday since 1979. this year we are bringing you an unfiltered view of the people seeking to stir that coverage this november. in other words, your future. so this election season, go deep, direct and unfiltered. see the biggest picture for yourself and make up your own line. campaign 2020. brought to you as a public service from your television provider. also last week house leaders participated in the dedication ceremony of the oversight and reform committee hearing room as the elijah e. cummings' room, in honor of the late chair passed away in october. >> good afternoon everyone.
it is my great privilege to welcome you to the ceremony to honor the life and work of our dear friend and colleague, chairman elijah cummings. first, i would like to recognize elijah's family members who are here with us today and thank them for sharing him with us. please raise your hand when i call your name. dr. maya cummings, his wife. [ applause ] miss jennifer cummings, his daughter. [ applause ] >> mr. james cummings, his brother. [ applause ] >> mr. anthony woodson, his nephew. [ applause ] >> mr. carmen williams, his
cousin. [ applause ] when i think of elijah, i think of what a friend of mine described him as a gem. that description resonated with me deeply. like a gem, elijah seemed to have his own inner light, his own brilliance. he brought that light into this very room where he was a beacon of truth. he also brought his deep empathy and compassion and the shining power of his faith. he encouraged us to reach not only for common ground but for higher ground. he brought us together in this room and he's doing it again even now. today we are honored to name this hearing room for him. this room and the work we do here will remind future generations of elijah's unwaivering commitment to justice as well as his dedication to civility a.
he fought with all his might for what is right. he never thought less of those who disagree with him. i can hear him now quoting from the book of aimus. do you know what i want? i want ocean of it, i want fairness and rivers of it. that's what i want, that's all i want. let me complete with this. february is black history month and i would be remissed if i did not highlight one additional fact and preparing for today's ceremony, we consulted the congressional historians office. according to that office, there has never been a room anywhere than the entire capitol that has been named as an african-american member of congress that has never been done. so elijah will be a pioneer yet
again and this room will be the first. we are grieving the loss of elijah, what he did and represented and his spirit is eternal. his light will always be with us. thank you very much. now, i would like to recognize a very good friend of his as the next speaker, congressman mark meadows. mark was a close friends with eye lye s elijah, he always wanted to name this room after elijah. congressman mark meadows. >> well, it is a great honor to honor the chairman. that's what i refer to elijah not only as my friend but the chairman. now, he scared me to death just to be blunt.
i was down there on the lower part of -- well, let me just speak bluntly. if we had a hearing on monday, i would get to ask questions on friday and so but elijah never looked at it as anything left as being 145 members of congress. what we are here today is giver honor where it is due. i want to recognize every single staff person that's here that works with elijah. you know him better than most. a lot of his legacy continues to serve in the halls of congress. the lessons he taught and the things he shared and the compassion for his fellow men is not only recognized by some of the other side of the isle but it is carrying on by those who knew him well and serve with him
and appreciate who he was as a gentleman and as a friend and as a family member and as someone who was always willing to speak truth in a respectable way. you will hear it from other people that we meet whether a ranking member or a chairman. we needed to be effective and efficient and boy, i stole that from him and use that against him as many times as i possibly could. yet today we are giving honor and i am just humbled to see the crowd that is here. i am just amazed of the impact of the one life on the lives of so many. we can give him a great applause and he's hearing the applause of heaven right now because he's in a much better place.
it is my honor to turn the podium over to a good friend from california, chairwoman karen bass for a few remarks. >> thank you. humbled but not surprised. a man who was bigger than life who impacted so many of us and impacted the entire nation and it was such a blow and being here today and seeing everybody kind of throws you back into the shock that we all felt when we received the news. today we are hear to celebrate his legacy. i am proud to join my colleagues as we honor a man who spent his entire life advocating for justice and civil rights and safe guarding the integrity of america's democracy. while his role is the chairman of the oversight committee may be recently remembered for
playing a leading role in what we went through as a nation over impeachment. congressman cummings always stood for the people. his leadership and championing affordable healthcare and drug prices for americans and fighting for children separated from their families and i know all of us will remember those hearings. when he would get emotional when he came into children and children being hurt. i remember the hearing where he heard about the children that were going to be cut-off of life saving care and their immigration status was a concern and the passion he brought and the outrage that he brought to the notion of that. making sure that the 2020 census will be an accurate reputation of our country. these are a few examples and i know we can go on all day talking about ways that he has impacted us individually and
also our nation. outside of this building, we also watched him and the whole country watched him when there were problems in baltimore. we saw our elijah standing the streets to calm an entire city during a time of unrest and grief after the death of freddie gray who was a victim of police brutality. we saw him go out night after night and be back here in the morning to chair committee meetings. he foresaw the imminent danger we were facing to our democracy. he always used his gavel to speak truth to the power of our nation. he would remind us in the congressional black caucus that our caucus was founded on the principle of being the conscious of congress. when mr. cummings spoke, he spoke with moral authority and reminding us we are better than
that on behalf of 2 congressional congress, i thank speaker pelosi dedicating this committee room for congressman elijah that would ensure that his legacy would always leave on. i have the honor to introducing the most powerful black man, an icon, the whip, mr. clyburn. [ applause ] >> thank you very, very much madame chair. when i spoke to speaker pelosi sometimes a go about this day, we were involved in a little bit of activities down in charleston, carolina. i sat down to try to write
something, what to say? i thought i would spend a couple of minutes talking about elijah, what he meant to me or this party. this body of congress. some of you may know elijah's roots. south carolina. he was born and raise a few miles where i was born and raised. of course, we all came along around the time activities going on, kansas, when i came here i really spent the summer out here in baltimore called cherry hill, y'all may know a little bit
about cherry hill. i remember everybody, my whole family thought they had died and go to heaven. they went to live in cherry hill. they would invite me to come up and spend time with them and so my first time in baltimore on cherry hill. one day because i didn't know any of this was about elijah. i was talking to him and telling him about my experience in baltimore in cherry hill and how my family really thought something will happen to you if you move out of the town. he looked at me and he started telling me about the baptist church. i decided that i was going to have a homecoming for elijah at
mountain zero baptist church. i got in touch with the church and i told elijah when it is going to be and he all planned for it. on that evening around 6:00. one of the worst storms that we ever had on that day came up. roofs taken off houses and i turned to my wife, you know what, we picked a wrong day to have a homecoming. nobody is going to show up at this church tonight. we got in the car and went anyway. when we got to that church, with all the storm and all the rain, it was full of people, the balcony. that's when i realized how
special elijah was. he was not going there. his appearance. they never allowed that family to get from them. he never allowed them to get from him. growing up with pk, preachers kid ain't easy. i grew up and we talked about how tough it was sometimes to try to stay out of trouble. we talked about it. he succeeded much more often than i did. but nobody lived out one of my
favorites better than elijah. he of things unseen. he and i talked often on the floor, just the two of us, literally whispering into each other's ears about what it meant to hold onto that faith. i will always hold on to elijah cummings. he meant so much to me. he meant so much to my family. he meant so much to the united states house of representatives and the world. thank you. [ applause ]
>> i thank the whip for that extraordinary introduction that he gave me. [ laughter ] i thought he would never stop. maya, we're glad to be here with you. we were sad to be with you and your family and elijah's family at that wonderful homecoming ceremony where so many of you spoke so well, and where so many of his brothers and sisters spoke so compellingly about who elijah was and what he meant to each us. for decades, perhaps centuries,
people are going to walk into this room. they're going to look up as they come in in the room and see elijah cummings' oversight committee room. and they will turn to somebody and say, who was elijah cummings? and perhaps those who knew him well will say, he was better than us. i had the great honor of being elijah's friend and colleague for many decades. he and i did not overlap in the general assembly. he was the speaker pro tem, the first african-american speaker pro tem. and we now have the first african-american woman because elijah cummings led the way.
now, you will notice, because i will introduce the speaker at some time, the extraordinary diversity of the leadership of the democratic party in the house. jim is from cherry hill. nancy is from baltimore. and i'm from prince georges county. [ applause ] you may have thought it was something else. elijah was the best of us. elijah was in public life for the best of reasons. elijah brought to him an experience, and experiences, that informed his empathy for others. it was one year ago today that
our dear elijah presided over a hearing and said the following, and we've repeated this so often because it is so compelling. he said, from that chair, when we're dancing with the angels, the question will be asked. in 2019, what did we do to make sure we kept our democracy intact? it was that power in his morality, in his integrity, in his passion for america and its people, that will be remembered when people walk through that door and look up and know that they are in the elijah cummings committee room. every day of his career in
public service, he dedicated to making sure that people who had the same experience, the same challen challenge, would be lifted up by those in power. and if not, he would call us to task for not doing that. arm in arm over the angels, elijah is surely looking down on us with hope and conviction that we will continue his work. here in this room, that work will surely continue, and will be informed by the example, both on the minority side and the majority side, and for generations to come, members, staff, witnesses, and citizens who come to watch proceedings will see his name above the door.
a place where justice springs forth to light the darkest corners of our country, whenever corruption and malfeasance tries to entrench itself in our republic and republic of laws. when we as a nation encounter setbacks in that work or see the march of justice slowed to a crawl, elijah's memory will surely inspire americans to keep going, to keep talking, to keep cooperating, to keep creating consensus for a better, fairer, more equal, more inclusive america. to keep striving, to keep working for the more perfect union, a more just america, that he knew to be our birthright. we miss him, all of us, every day, on this hill.
i know that maryland misses him every day. i personally miss him every day. some of you have heard me say, as long as we served together, elijah nominated me for office in this leadership every time i ran. god, thank you for giving us elijah cummings, to bless this country, to bless his family, to bless his colleagues, to bless this committee, to make us better than that which we could be, to be all we could be. john kennedy said, let us go forth to lead the land we love, asking his blessing and his help, but knowing that here on
earth, god's work must truly be our own. elijah, you did god's work and you did it well. [ applause ] not following the clyburn example, i am going to introduce an historic figure, that when you and i look back and say we were serving with nancy pelosi, we worked with nancy pelosi, we heard nancy pelosi, you will be able to tell your grandchildren you served with an historic figure, a great speaker, a great
person, nancy pelosi of baltimore, maryland. [ applause ] >> thank you, steny. clearly mr. clyburn didn't think you needed an introduction to this crowd. thank you for your kind words. not so fast on the historic part. but anyway, welcome again to maya, to jennifer, to sister yvonne, brother james, cousin carmen, nephew anthony, i'm sorry adiya and diane are not here, they're missed, they have our regards and gratitude for sharing the wonderful elijah cummings with us. it was really an honor to serve with him. and i know that many of us here consider it a joy to call him friend. now, you see everybody up here, all these members of congress, in the crowd and the rest, they
all wish they were up here because they all had so much to say about elijah cummings, because he was such a -- it was such an honor to serve with him. and we always learned from him, every single day. sometimes i would say to him, elijah, my close baltimore bro, we had a good rapport, we always consulted, i always said, elijah, am i mentoring you, i'm older, or are you mentoring me? because we always, always had the benefit of his thinking even though sometimes he didn't want us to think he was teaching us when it was his idea in the first place. thank you, madam chair, carolyn maloney, for hosting this celebration about this room being named for elijah and thank you for carrying on his work to protect our constitution, our system of checks and balances as we exercise oversight. and again, to the members of the family we say thank you.
we all consider ourselves members of elijah's official family. members of the leadership, members of the maryland delegation, are they all here? members of the maryland delegation, jamie, sarbanes, ru rupersburger, all the rest. they can attest to the fact that he was a great baltimore orioles fan, right? a ravens fan, right? he loved baltimore. and he loved that team spirit. and he thought that it was really part of his representation here, to not only represent the people of the area but the spirit of the area. it wasn't just baltimore city. he went out to the counties as well. the congressional black caucus, that involvement was so
important to him, and it was like a cornerstone for him, it was where values, we called it the conscience of the congress. and of course in the leadership with all of us, but especially his brother, mr. clyburn, who spoke so beautifully about their spiritual and family backgrounds together. his committees, he loved being chair of this committee. he also loved being on the transportation infrastructure committee. that meant a lot to him because it could connect him very directly to meeting the needs of his district. i was honored to appoint him to the naval academy board of visitors which he enjoyed very much as well. but every place he went, he enhanced the opportunities for making change for the better. now, here we called him our north star. everybody agreed, correct? elijah cummings was our north
star. he just was a leading tower of integrity and intellect and character. he was truly the master of the house, as many of us said when we eulogized him in the statutary hall of the house of representatives. how appropriate that he would be sent off from congress in such an important way. i don't remember that any house member ever was lying in state in the house and so many thousands of visitors coming to say goodbye to elijah cummings. mr. chairman, he was in a room, statuary hall, where so many patriots and heroes were memorialized and elijah too. people from both sides of the aisle, people from both sides of the capitol. it was beautiful, a beautiful thing. and then we all had the honor of celebrating elijah's life at new
psalmist baptist church, i'm glad i could make the cut because i could tell them some things that were happening here and the reverence in which he was held. this beautiful, saintly man. others have spoken about him saying we're better than this. he was always about the children. our living messengers to a future we'll never see, you've heard him say that, right? did you teach him that? a future we would never see. and he wanted to be sure that everything we did was to make that future better for our children. and everything he did, he wanted to make sure that we instilled the values of kindness in america in those children as they went forward. and it was about the children that he spoke from that chair, the chairman's seat. it was about when they talked
about what was happening to the children that he said, we are better than this, always connecting to the children. so here we are, dedicating a room to him. thank you, madam chair, for pointing out that this is historic. again, as you said, he was an historic figure and a pioneer in so many ways. when people walk the halls of congress, whether they come in this room or not, they will see above the door his name, and they will know how special he was, by that manifestation of respect for him. but what they also should know is that his name is on so many pieces of legislation, his work is on so much policy in the congress of the united states. it made a real difference in people's lives. he was so really spectacular that it is -- i still can't get over getting that call
practically in the middle of the night that our darling elijah had left us. but when he was here, and even praying for us up there, as steny referenced and others referenced, dancing with the angels, we know that the life and the work of elijah cummings was really a blessing to america. as we say, "god bless america," he truly did, with the life and work and legacy of elijah cummings. i hope it's a comfort to his family, his entire family, maya, that so many people truly, deeply mourn your loss still, pray for your family at this sad time, and not only pray for elijah but pray to elijah. thank you, elijah, for being the great person you are. we miss you terribly, i don't know when that will go away, but we do know one thing, the great
>> i want to thank everybody for coming, his wife, his family, all of his friends, our special guest, particularly his staff. he assembled, i believe, the best staff on capitol hill, headed by dave rapollo. many people did not know this, but they did an incredible job, doing the work and the research that led to the impeachment of the president, came from this staff and the hard work that they did in many ways. i also want to thank all of his
colleagues that he was so proud of and so close to, and to all honored speakers, everyone here, and especially speaker pelosi for making this all happen, thank you for making this happen. it's special, it's a historic, it's black history month, and elijah has a room named after him. thank you for coming. stay and enjoy the refreshments. thank you. [ applause ] mr. mccarthy is here too, thank you so muches for coming.
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