Upon the news of the passing of Congressman Elijah Cummings on Oct. 17, many on campus in the days to come will reflect on his legacy. Cummings dedicated his life to public service, and was passionate about his work for the state of Maryland.
The college’s Department of Sociology is located within the Parren J. Mitchell Art-Sociology Building, named after a distinguished alumnus of UMD who in 1970 became the first African-American elected to Congress in Maryland. Beginning in 1996, Congressman Cummings was elected to represent the same district (Maryland’s 7th) previously represented by Congressman Mitchell. When Congressman Cummings delivered the eulogy for Parren J. Mitchell in 2007, he said Congressman Mitchell had ‘earned the trust of people throughout the country and the world because he was constantly building bridges for others to cross, while tearing down the walls that had excluded them.’
Today, we both mourn and celebrate Congressman Elijah Cummings himself as a consummate bridge-builder fighting against exclusion—an especially meaningful legacy in the current divided climate of our country.
Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons