Rep Elijah Cummings at a Know Your Rights event alongside CASA leaders
and Executive Director Gustavo Torres
Waking to the news today of the death of Congressman Elijah Cummings, CASA staff and members mourned reflecting on the passing of an American hero; a man that gave them hope at a time when their very humanity is questioned by national leaders.
The voice of the resistance, Chairman Cummings led riveting oversight hearings that delved into the national embarrassment of family separation, conditions in detention, and the role of racism in the administration’s cancellation of programs like Temporary Protected Status (TPS).
For us, his legacy was personal; the support and love he had for our children growing up in Central Maryland. That commitment was perfectly crystalized with a 2015 meeting when Congressman Cummings joined us at an emergency meeting at Owings Mills High School to confront the aftermath of an ICE raid. He told our members, “Diversity is our nation’s promise – not our problem.” When CASA member Lucy Mendoza described raising children while cleaning three homes a day to survive, the Congressman shared, “Many people may not know this, but my mother also cleaned homes and worked very hard to provide for me. I don’t know what I would have done without her.” That combination of inspiring and deeply personal strengthened our members. In him, they saw hope for themselves.
“Congressman Cummings was a crucial champion for Baltimore, and our country as a whole, fearlessly fighting for our black and brown community; many times while others in Congress stayed silent,” said Lydia Walther-Rodriguez, CASA’s Baltimore Regional Director. “From marching with us for police accountability after the murder of Freddie Gray to standing by our side confronting ICE raids in Baltimore County, Congressman Cummings was a giant for justice. We have truly lost a hero today, and we hope his legacy will carry on as we continue to fight for our City.”
Karen Fiallos, a CASA leader who has lived in the Congressman’s district for over a decade, cried when she heard the news.
“I’m so saddened to hear the news that someone who took the time to listen to us and fought for us is no longer here with us. His words of hope will continue in my heart as I continue to fight for my family in this country, which he once told me was my home as well.”
Congressman Cummings; you will continue in our hearts.