October 17, 2019: All of us at the Legal Action Center mourn the loss of Representative Elijah Cummings, a relentless champion for justice and dignity. His courage of conviction was unwavering, and his leadership served as a moral compass in the Congress and in the community.
Although much of the media coverage today has focused on Congressman Cummings’ role as Chairman of the House Oversight and Reform Committee, we will remember him as one of the very few, very strong, and extremely effective long-standing advocates in Congress for our constituencies. Congressman Cummings was one of the first members of Congress to address the pervasive and pernicious connections between systemic racism in health care and criminal justice, poor community health access, and mass incarceration, and led the fight at the community and federal levels to change the system and help people access opportunity.
Long before discussion of the opioid crisis, Congressman Cummings championed shifting drug policy towards a public health approach, staunchly advocating for increased access to affordable, quality addiction treatment and reentry programs in all communities. He fought tirelessly so that his fellow-Baltimoreans and neighbors were treated, not incarcerated, for their substance use problems.
Whether he was fighting for health care or criminal justice reform; for civil rights or education equity; we will remember Congressman Cummings for promoting policies that center people and ensure that they are treated with dignity, fairness and compassion.
We will honor his legacy by continuing to fight for justice, breaking down the barriers of inequity and defending the dignity of all we serve.