By LaKeshia Myers
I remember it like it was yesterday, my first full committee hearing with the Oversight & Government Reform Committee. I was nervous, because I had to help set up the hearing room and make sure that all of the Congressional members nameplates were in the correct order when they arrived. As I was walking back to the storage room to get more water for members who were arriving, I bumped into Congressman Elijah Cummings. Literally, we almost collided in the doorway as he was rushing to his seat on the dais and I was heading to the supply room. I remember saying, “oh, I’m sorry congressman, you go ahead” he stepped back and said, “no, you go ahead, because you are clearly on a mission.” We both laughed and continued with our respective duties, but from that day forward, he would always make it a point to check in with me and see how I was faring on the committee.
Just like the other democratic members, I got to work closely with Congressman Cummings while I was employed by the committee. I was often tasked with writing floor speeches or occasionally aiding his personal office staff. This was unique because some members prefer that their personal office staff not interact with committee staffers because the roles differ, but Congressman Cummings was one who wanted all of the staff to know and interact with each other when we needed to.
Congressman Cummings was known to be a fierce advocate for the people of Baltimore, but I knew him to be an advocate for all people. He stood on the side of what was right. He did not get mired down in the pettiness that can rear its head in politics; he was true to his word and he believed in the legislative process. He believed in giving young people opportunities. He was known to have lots of interns in his office, believing that everyone should have the opportunity to understand the intricacies of the legislature.
When I think back to our first encounter in the doorway at the committee hearing, Congressman Cummings said I was on a mission—he was absolutely right— because it takes one to know one. His was most definitely a life that was lived on purpose. He was the epitome of a servant leader and he can finally rest, as his mission is now complete.