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Rep. Elijah Cummings’ Legacy Calls Us All to Commitment

Leaders of Teach For America Baltimore remember a public servant who made a difference in his city and our country.

By Courtney Cass and Omari Todd

October 25, 2019

Our city and our country are still grieving the loss of one of Baltimore’s greatest champions and advocates, Rep. Elijah Cummings. On Friday, Rep. Cummings will be laid to rest in the city he loved. His commitment to Baltimore and to its people will long be felt in the significant impact he had on the city and the nation. He is an inspiration to all of us at Teach For America Baltimore as an example of the limitless potential of all of our students to lead, advocate, and change our world for the better.

The son of sharecroppers with a second-grade education, Rep. Cummings went on to graduate from Baltimore City College High School, Howard University, and University of Maryland School of Law before becoming a well-respected and trusted Congressman. All the way, Rep. Cummings centered his life on a commitment to his hometown. In the protests that followed Freddie Gray’s death, Rep. Cummings modeled for all of us servant leadership, marching alongside and supporting his fellow Baltimoreans.

Rep. Cummings worked to create a city that thrives in the face of adversity. He understood there was no one solution in working toward equity and improving the lives of those most in need. His work across human rights, health, education, and community have shaped Baltimore into what it is today. He will not only be remembered as the first African American to serve as speaker of the Maryland House of Delegates, but as a consistent voice of reason who brought the interests of Baltimore to Washington, D.C.

He knew the importance of bringing together community to address the challenges facing our students today. Less than two months before his passing, one of us, Courtney,attended a forum that Rep. Cummings hosted in Baltimore on treating and healing childhood trauma. He listened and learned so he could advocate, serving as a powerful example of a public servant who fights for his community.

Rep. Cummings often said that “our children are the living messages that we send to a future we will never see.” Our more than 1,200 Teach For America alumni and corps members will continue to work to support children on the path to leadership in service of their community. We know progress and movements don’t live or die with one person, and the legacy of Rep. Cummings calls each of us to be in the fight, to listen, and to center around students, families and our community.

Omari Todd was a 2000 Teach For America Baltimore corps member and today is a Regional Field Executive for TFA. Courtney Cass was a 2000 New York City corps member and is the executive director of TFA Baltimore.