Oct 25, 2019
Elijah Cummings Funeral Eulogy Transcripts: Barack Obama, Nancy Pelosi, and Hillary Clinton Among Speakers at Late Representative’s Funeral
Barack Obama Eulogy Transcript
Barack Obama: (00:40)
To the bishop and first lady and the new [Salmas 00:00:43] family… To the Cummings family. Maya, Mr. President, Madam Secretary, Madam Speaker, Governor, friends, colleagues, staff.
Barack Obama: (01:18)
The seeds on good sower. 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 sower. Elijah Cummings came from good sower, and in this sturdy frame goodness took root.
Barack Obama: (02:19)
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’re praying for you, and you don’t know. They might be praying about you, but you don’t know if they’re praying for you. But I knew Ms. Ruth was telling the truth. So they were the proverbial salt of the earth and they passed on that strength and that grit, but also that kindness and that faith to their son.
Barack Obama: (04:07)
As a boy Elijah’s dad made him shine his shoes and tie his tie, and they’d go to the airport, not to board their planes, but to watch others do it. I remember Elijah telling me this story. Robert would say, “I have not flied. I may not fly, but you will fly one day. We can’t afford it right now, but you will fly.” His grandmother, as Elijah relayed it, and as grandmothers do, was a little more impatient with her advice. “Your daddy,” she said, “he’d been waiting and waiting and waiting for a better day. Don’t you wait.” Elijah did not wait.
Barack Obama: (05:07)
Against all odds Elijah earned his degrees. He learned about the rights that all people in this country are supposed to possess. With a little help, apparently, from Perry Mason Elijah became a lawyer to make sure that others had rights, and his people had their God given rights. And from the State house to the House of Representatives, his commitment to justice and the rights of others would never, ever waiver. Elijah’s example, the son of parents who rose from nothing to carve out just a little something. The public servant who toiled to guarantee the least of us have the same opportunities that he had earned. A leader who once said he’d die for his people even as he lived every minute for them. His life validates the things we tell ourselves about what’s possible in this country. Not guaranteed, but possible. The possibility that our destinies are not pre-ordained, but rather through our works and our dedication and our willingness to open our hearts to God’s message of love for all people, we can live a purposeful life. That we can reap about a full harvest, that we are neither sentenced to wither among the rocks, nor assured a bounty, but we have a capacity, the chance as individuals and as a nation to root ourselves in good soil.
Barack Obama: (07:44)
Elijah understood that. That’s why he fought for justice. That’s why he embraced this beloved community of Baltimore. That’s why he went on to fight for the rights and opportunities of forgotten people all across America, not just in his district. He was never complacent, for he knew that without clarity of purpose and a steadfast faith and the dogged determination demanded by our liberty, the promise of this nation can wither. Complacency, he knew was not only corrosive for our collective lives, but for our individual lives. It’s been remarked that Elijah was a kind man.
Barack Obama: (08:59)
I tell my daughters, and I have to say listening to Elijah’s daughter speak, that got me choked up. I’m sure those of you who have sons feel the same way, but there’s something about daughters and their father. And I was thinking I’d want my daughters to know how much I love them, but I’d also want them to know that being a strong man includes being kind. That there’s nothing weak about kindness and compassion. There’s nothing weak about looking out for others. There’s nothing weak about being honorable. You’re not a sucker to have integrity and to treat others with respect.
Barack Obama: (10:13)
I was sitting here, and I was just noticing the honorable Elijah E. Cummings, and this is a title that we confer on all kinds of people who get elected to public office. We’re supposed to introduce them as honorable, but Elijah Cummings was honorable before he was elected office. There’s a difference. There’s a difference if you were honorable and treated others honorably outside the limelight, on the side of a road, in a quiet moment counseling somebody you work with, letting your daughters know you love them.
Barack Obama: (11:42)
You know, as President, I knew I could always count on Elijah being honorable and doing the right thing. And people have talked about his voice. There is something about his voice that just made you feel better. You know, there’s some people that we have a deep baritone, a prophetic voice. And when it was good times, and we achieved victories together, that voice and that laugh was a gift. But you needed it more during the tough times. When the path ahead looked crooked, when obstacles abounded. When I entertained doubts or I saw those who were in the fight start to waiver, that’s when Elijah’s voice mattered most. And more than once during my presidency when the economy still looked like it might plunge into depression. When the healthcare bill was pronounced dead in Congress, I would watch Elijah rally his colleagues. “The cost of doing nothing isn’t nothing,” he would say, and folks would remember why they entered into public service.
Barack Obama: (13:22)
Our children are the living messengers we send to a future we will never see. He would say, and he would remind all of us that our time is too short not to fight for what’s good and what is true and what is best in America. 200 years to 300 years from now he would say people will look back at this moment and they will ask the question, what did you do? And hearing him, we would be reminded that it falls upon each of us to give voice to the voices and comfort to the sick and opportunity to those not born to it and to preserve and nurture our democracy.
Barack Obama: (14:18)
Elijah Cummings was a man of noble and good heart. His parents and his faith planted the seeds of hope and love and compassion and the righteousness and that good soil of his. He has harvested all the crop that he could, for the Lord has now called Elijah home to give His humble, faithful servant rest.
Barack Obama: (15:01)
And it now falls on us to continue his work so that other young boys and girls in Baltimore, across Maryland, across the United States, and around the world, might, too, have a chance to grow and to flourish. That’s how we will honor him. That’s how we will remember him. That’s what he would hope for. May God bless the memory of the very honorable Elijah Cummings, and may God bless this city and this state and this nation that he loved. God bless you. Thank you.
Hillary Clinton Eulogy Transcript
Hillary Clinton: (00:01)
This is the day the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad in it. Because this is the day for the home going celebration of a great man, a moral leader, and a friend. To Bishop Walter Scott Thomas and first lady of the church, Patricia Thomas and the new Psalmist Baptist Church, thank you for welcoming us all here to reflect on the life and celebrate the service of Elijah Cummings. And to the Cummings family, to his political family, the constituents from the Maryland congressional seventh district, thank you for sharing him with our country and the world.
Hillary Clinton: (01:00)
And thank you Maya. As you have said so beautifully, you walked by Elijah’s side on this journey. Thank you for your steadfastness, your resilience and your leadership. It is no coincidence, is it? That Elijah Cummings shared a name with an Old Testament prophet, whose name and in Hebrew the Lord is my God, and who used the power and the wisdom that God gave him to uphold the moral law that all people are subject to. And because of all people are equal, like the prophet hour, Elijah could call down fire from heaven.
Hillary Clinton: (02:15)
But he also prayed and worked for healing. He weathered storms and earthquakes, but never lost his faith. Like that Old Testament prophet, he stood against corrupt leadership of King Ahab and queen Jezebel, and he looked out for the vulnerable among us. He lifted up the next generation of leaders, he even worked a few miracles. And he kept reminding us, life is no dress rehearsal, the American people want to live their lives without fear of their leaders.
Hillary Clinton: (03:21)
And as leaders, we have a responsibility to keep the promises made when running for office to make the lives of Americans better. As Elijah said, while we’re all on this earth, that’s my message. Our Elijah was a fierce champion for truth, justice, and kindness in every part of his life. His integrity and character, his can do spirit made him a guiding light in the Congress. He pushed back against the abuse of power. He was unwavering in his defense of our democracy. He had little tolerance for those who put party ahead of country or partisanship above truth.
Hillary Clinton: (04:28)
But he could find common ground with anyone willing to seek it with him, and he liked to remind all of us that you can’t get so caught up in who you are fighting that you forget what you are fighting for. Even his political adversaries recognized that it wasn’t really about politics for our Elijah. He led from his soul. He often said that our children are a message to a future we will never see. I saw that firsthand when I attended an event for the Elijah Cummings Youth Program in Israel, a leadership program for young people in his district.
Hillary Clinton: (05:33)
And Elijah didn’t just put his name on the program and then forget about it, he interviewed every applicant. He was personally invested in their success. He wanted all of us to see our young people as he memorably asked us to do when he gave the eulogy at the funeral for Freddie Gray, “Did you see him?” By the time these young people came back from Israel to Baltimore, they had celebrated Shabbat, studied Hebrew, hiked up Masada.
Hillary Clinton: (06:09)
They had seen and been seen and made lifelong friends. All because Elijah comings knew from his own experiences that it’s one thing to learn abstractly about the world, but another to experience it with people different from yourself, learning from each other, lifting each other up. Elijah often said his philosophy was simple, do something, go out and do something. No matter how daunting a problem seems, no matter how helpless you feel, surely there is something you can do.
Hillary Clinton: (06:53)
I think that remains his challenge to each of us. As he said, even if it seems small, there’s usually something you can do if you are looking for it. You can defend the truth, you can defend democracy, you can lift up others. And toward the end of his life he said, “I am begging the American people to pay attention to what is going on, because if you want to have a democracy intact for your children and your children’s children and generations yet unborn, we have got to guard this moment. This is our watch.”
Hillary Clinton: (07:45)
Our Elijah knew because he was a man of faith and a man of the church, that life was fleeting and precious. And that’s why he worked so hard to make every moment of his life count. “When we’re dancing with the angels, the question will be asked,” he said, “in 2019 what did we do to make sure we kept our democracy intact?” I will end with the paraphrase of a poem that Elijah recited in his very first speech in the Congress. He said that he told himself this poem as many as 20 times a day. I only have a minute, 60 seconds in it forced upon me. I did not choose it, but I know that I must use it, give account if I abuse it, suffer if I lose it. Only a tiny little minute, but eternity is in it. Thank you Elijah Cummings for your work, your service, and the lessons you leave us. God bless you.
Nancy Pelosi Eulogy Transcript
Nancy Pelosi: (00:10)
Good morning Baltimore. Thank you Bishop Thomas for bringing us under this beautiful auspices to pay tribute to our darling precious Elijah. Mr. President, Mr. President, Mr. Vice President, Madam Secretary, Archbishop Lori, Bishop, members of the clergy, distinguished guests, to all of you here for our darling Elijah. As Speaker of the House, I have the sad honor and personal privilege to bring the condolences of the entire Congress of the United States to Maya, the Cummings family, the people and the constituents of Elijah’s district, people of Baltimore, to our entire country. I say that with greater authority because yesterday, my friends and those of you who loved Elijah, yesterday, Maya gave us the privilege of having a celebration of Elijah’s life in the capital of the United States.
Nancy Pelosi: (01:38)
The first African-American law maker ever to serve in repose, lie in repose in the capital of the United States. It was so beautiful and as has been referenced, Elijah brought people together in life of different parties and in his death of different parties. And that’s why I’m so pleased that yesterday’s service was very bipartisan. In fact, it took bipartisan agreement for Elijah to lie in repose on the same catapult that Abraham Lincoln lay in repose in the capital.
Nancy Pelosi: (02:28)
And so today we have a very strong bipartisan of Elijah’s colleagues from the House of Representatives led by our chair of the black caucus, Karen Bass, our leader, Steny Hoyer, John Lewis, Marcia who got the nod and I’m happy to get it as well and so many of our members of the house in a bipartisan fashion, please rise to be recognized and their families and their staff, Elijah’s staff. John Lewis, where are you, John Lewis? And we had a strong representation from the United States Senate in a bipartisan way yesterday. Today also led by Ben Cardin and Chris Van Hollen bringing so many senators here today.
Nancy Pelosi: (03:28)
Bishop Thomas, how brilliant was it of Elijah’s parents to name him Elijah? As the secretary said, “Lord, the God is my Lord.” And as we know from the Old Testament, there is a tradition to leave a seat at the table for Elijah who might show up, but our Elijah always made a seat at the table for others. He made a seat at the table for children who needed an education, for even new members of Congress so that he could mentor them, for all who wanted to be part of the American dream. Elijah himself personally lived the American dream and he wanted everyone else to have that opportunity, hence many seats at the table. How fortunate for our country that his parents also taught him to live up to his name. How blessed are we all to know him and to benefit from his friendship and his leadership?
Nancy Pelosi: (04:39)
Elijah was a proud man, proud of his heritage, proud of Baltimore, and proud of America. He always appealed to our better angels and to the promise of America, calling us to live up to our principles and for a higher purpose. As he said, and this is so… All the words that we will use that are the best words are words that Elijah used. When we were not meeting the needs of children in our country he said, “We are better than this.” He held himself to a high standard and that is why I’ve called him the North Star of Congress, our guiding light.
Nancy Pelosi: (05:34)
Thank you Maya for giving me this opportunity to speak at the Baltimore celebration as well as yesterday of Elijah’s life. Previously, I’ve seen some of you over time speaking as Speaker Of the House before at St. James Episcopal Church to speak at the funeral service for Congressman Parren Mitchell, a sad and proud day for the Baltimore community and our country that day. Paying tribute to Parren was both an official and a personal honor. My D’Alesandro family and the Mitchell family had been friends for generations.
Nancy Pelosi: (06:14)
Now it is my great honor and personal sadness to join you at the New Psalmist Baptist Church, Elijah’s church to celebrate Elijah’s life. As I said, yesterday members of Congress said goodbye to Elijah. Maya gave us the honor again of holding that official service in the Statuary Hall of the House. At that time I said this was appropriate because Elijah was master of the house, master of the house. In his chairmanship of the committee on oversight and reform, he lived up to his responsibilities to hold the federal government accountable to the laws of the land. One word I would use to describe Elijah over and over again is the word future. He was there to make the future for our children whom he called, as has been said, our living messengers to a future we will never see. But he wanted for those children to have a future worthy of their aspirations and he wanted them to have a future built on our values, continued to be built on our [inaudible 00:00:07:29].
Nancy Pelosi: (07:29)
And as a master of the House he was also the mentor of the House. Has anybody in here been mentored by Elijah Cummings? I think so. It was no surprise that when we had this election and we won the Congress that Elijah said, “Send me as many freshmen as you can because I want to help them be oriented to reach the full, their fullest potential in the House of Representatives.” So wonderful that he did that and all members whether new or not benefited from the generosity of his spirit. Sometimes the candor of how we do our work, whether we asked or not, the candor was there and again, it was an honor to share again this, some of these thoughts about our dear Elijah.
Nancy Pelosi: (08:21)
Elijah love Baltimore and his district. He was my Baltimore brother in Congress. We had our chats about Baltimore all the time. He loved and respected his constituents. By example he gave people hope. By his courage he fought for what is right. By his brilliance, knowledge and legal prowess he made a difference in so many ways fighting for gun violence prevention, expanding opportunity for everyone. Recognizing, now this was most recent, recognizing the cost of prescription drugs hurt the health and economic wellbeing of America’s working families. He was willing to reach across the aisle, even across the Capitol, even down Pennsylvania Avenue. So it should be a source of pride for all of us who loved Elijah that the committee chairman immediately named HR3, the Lower Drug Costs Act Now, the Elijah E. Cummings Lower Drug Costs Now.
Nancy Pelosi: (09:27)
Our Baltimore connection gave me special entree into the thinking, Elijah’s thinking, which helped me as Speaker. Our love of the Orioles and the Ravens made it fun. Thank you Baltimore for your contribution to the greatness of the United States of America. When I spoke on Wednesday my brother Tommy D’Alesandro’s service, I acknowledged that we would be honoring Elijah today. We lost two great leaders in one week, we did in Baltimore.
Nancy Pelosi: (10:12)
One of the things that Elijah, my brother Tommy and I a thing from Baltimore and I representing San Francisco had in common was the pride we took in Baltimore, our Baltimore. Another thing Tommy, Elijah and I had and I in representing San Francisco had in common that our hearts are full of love for America. I used to tell them in San Francisco for us love means letting other versions exist, and that’s exactly what Elijah did. Respecting the views of others, reaching across the aisle, building community and consensus.
Nancy Pelosi: (10:57)
Thank you, Maya. Thank you to your children and to your entire family for sharing Elijah with us and for loving him so much. You were the source of his strength and inspiration. I hope it is a comfort to you that so many people mourn your sad loss and are praying for you at this sad time. As we always pray for God to bless America, let us acknowledge that God truly blessed America with the life and legacy of Elijah E. Cummings, mentor, master of the house, northstar, Mr. Chairman, master of the house. May he rest in peace, Elijah Cummings. Thank you all so much.