More than two dozen supporters joined a Thursday afternoon procession organized by the progressive advocacy group Catonsville Indivisibles in memory of the late U.S. Rep. Elijah Cummings.
Traveling down Frederick Road to Cummings’ district office in Catonsville, the congressman’s constituents solemnly carried bouquets from Blue Iris Flowers to leave in his honor. The congressman died in hospice early Thursday morning.
Cummings, whose district included the southwestern part of Baltimore County, was “truly somebody who embodied the values and principles of what a true democracy should look like,” said Zainab Chaudry, addressing supporters at Cummings’ office.
Describing the congressman as unapologetic and unafraid, Chaudry, director of the Maryland chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, said "he was not somebody who ever shied away from speaking truth to power.”
Cummings “truly defines the direction of the moral compass we need in our country today,” she said.
As chairman of the House Oversight and Reform Committee, the Baltimore Democrat became a key figure in impeachment proceedings against President Donald Trump at a time when “our democracy is being challenged,” said Susan Radke, an organizer with the local Indivisibles chapter and Indivisible Central Maryland.
Cummings had not participated in a House roll call vote since Sept. 11. He missed a key committee hearing in mid-September, and his office said then he had undergone a medical procedure.
Even as a national figure, Cummings didn’t forget his constituents, Radke said Thursday morning.
“He spoke at so many of our meetings,” Radke said. “We are heartbroken.”
Earlier this year, Cummings spoke during a meeting of the Southwest Baltimore County Democratic Club. Monica Kennedy, pastor of St. Charles of Brazil Church in Linthicum and a member of the Democratic club, remembered the standing ovation as Cummings arrived.
“He said, ‘It’s amazing to me that the son of a sharecropper can stand in here and get a standing ovation from you as a representative in the Congress of the United States,’” the Arbutus resident recalled. “He was so rooted in the right purpose of public service.”
The Rev. Beverly Lewis, of Catonsville’s Immanuel United Church of Christ, said Cummings “was a constant nudge to keep moving, keep agitating, keep voting, keep working for peace. I will always hear his voice in me when I get tired and I want to stop.”
Former Baltimore County Executive Don Mohler said he was “honored to work with the Congressman for more than 25 years,” during his career in education and as a Baltimore County area schools superintendent, “up until I left as county executive,” he said.
Cummings “dug down in and touched our souls” and gave “a voice to the most vulnerable among us,” Mohler said.
The best way to honor Cummings’ memory was not to “give up in this dark time," he added.
“There’s a balance here between personal loss and the loss of an activist,” said state Del. Eric Ebersole, a Democrat who represents parts of Howard and Baltimore counties.
“I feel great personal loss but at the same time, I find myself worried,” Ebersole said tearfully. “Who will step into his shoes and do the work he does, that he did?”
Baltimore Sun reporter Jeff Barker contributed to this article.