Elijah Cummings, 62 years old, has lived and seen the best — and the worst — of what this country means, offers and does to a black man. He knows the promise and pain of Black America.
His parents were Southern sharecroppers who moved to Baltimore for a better life. The budding civil rights movement was active in the city, and schools and public facilities became integrated when he was a boy. They were excellent, and he went on to become student body president at Howard University, earned a law degree and now serves as a Democrat in the House, representing the city in which he grew up.
He recently took his 86-year-old mother, Ruth Cummings, to meet his close friend, Barack Obama. A Pentecostal preacher, she told the president, “I want you to know, son, I pray for you every day.”
“She called him ‘son’!” Cummings recalled with a laugh. “I said, ‘Mom, he’s the president.’ She told me it was the best day of her life. It blew her mind to meet a black president.”
But as Cummings rose — indeed, as Barack Obama rose in Chicago — Baltimore fell.
Cummings’ district, which is 60 percent African-American, encompasses block upon block with abandoned, boarded-up housing. The congressman lives on one such block. Schools and other public institutions are under crushing financial pressure. Poverty, joblessness and incarceration: all rampant, and in many cases worsened in recent years of recession. (Huffington Post)