Elijah E. Cummings, a Democratic congressman from Maryland who gained national attention for his principled stands on politically charged issues in the House, his calming effect on anti-police riots in Baltimore, and his forceful opposition to the presidency of Donald Trump, died Oct. 17 at a hospice center in Baltimore. He was 68.
The cause was “complications concerning long-standing health challenges,” his office said in a statement. Mr. Cummings was chairman of the House Oversight and Reform Committee and a leading figure in the Trump impeachment inquiry and had been out of his office for weeks while recovering from an unspecified medical procedure.
Born to a family of Southern sharecroppers and Baptist preachers, Mr. Cummings grew up in the racially fractured Baltimore of the 1950s and 1960s. At 11, he helped integrate a local swimming pool while being attacked with bottles and rocks. “Perry Mason,” the popular TV series about a fictional defense lawyer, inspired him to enter the legal profession.
My dad always flew an American flag in our front yard. The blue paint on our two-story house was perennially chipping; the fence, or the rail by the stairs, or the front door, existed in a perpetual state of disrepair, but that flag always flew pristine. Our corner lot, which had been redlined by the federal government, was along the river that divided the black side from the white side of our Iowa town. At the edge of our lawn, high on an aluminum pole, soared the flag, which my dad would replace as soon as it showed the slightest tatter.
My dad was born into a family of sharecroppers on a white plantation in Greenwood, Miss., where black people bent over cotton from can’t-see-in-the-morning to can’t-see-at-night, just as their enslaved ancestors had done not long before. The Mississippi of my dad’s youth was an apartheid state that subjugated its near-majority black population through breathtaking acts of violence. White residents in Mississippi lynched more black people than those in any other state in the country, and the white people in my dad’s home county lynched more black residents than those in any other county in Mississippi, often for such “crimes” as entering a room occupied by white women, bumping into a white girl or trying to start a sharecroppers union.
My dad’s mother, like all the black people in Greenwood, could not vote, use the public library or find work other than toiling in the cotton fields or toiling in white people’s houses. So in the 1940s, she packed up her few belongings and her three small children and joined the flood of black Southerners fleeing North. She got off the Illinois Central Railroad in Waterloo, Iowa, only to have her hopes of the mythical Promised Land shattered when she learned that Jim Crow did not end at the Mason-Dixon line.
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SELMA, Ala. — On a different Sunday in Selma, this one more than five decades ago, John Lewis was a 25-year-old activist wearing a long tan jacket and carrying a backpack, helping to marshal hundreds of demonstrators across the Edmund Pettus Bridge. They were bombarded by clouds of tear gas and swarmed by state troopers wielding clubs, one of which fractured Mr. Lewis’s skull.
Mr. Lewis, who died on July 17, crossed the bridge one last time on Sunday, his coffin carried by horses as part of a valedictory pilgrimage retracing the arc of his life. The trek started on Saturday in Troy, county seat of Pike County where he grew up on a cotton farm, and continues this week onto Washington, where he served in Congress, and Atlanta, which became his home.
But the tribute in Selma did not simply mark Mr. Lewis’s final trip to a place he had embraced as a wellspring of renewal and inspiration, drawing him back year after year. It was also a tacit acknowledgment, tinged with sadness but also satisfaction, that the generation that had steered the civil rights fight in the 1960s was now past its twilight and another one was emerging to pilot the movement through its latest iteration.
After his retirement in 2016, Bryant spent much of this time working at his production company, Granity Studios. The operation has put out young adult books, a podcast and created the Oscar-winning animated short, Dear Basketball.
He was married to Vanessa Bryant — the two were parents to four daughters.
By morning, as the people of Yambuku heard Muyembe had been sent by the central government in Kinshasa, they started lining up at the hospital hoping he had medicine for them.
"I started to make physical exam," he says. "But at that time we had no gloves in the whole hospital."
And, of course, he had to draw blood, but when he removed the syringes, the puncture would gush blood.
"It was the first time for me to see this phenomenon," he says. "And also my fingers were soiled with blood."
Muyembe says he washed his hands, but it was really luck that kept him from contracting an infection. He knew immediately this was something he'd never seen before. Some of the Belgian nuns in the village had been vaccinated against yellow fever and typhoid, but this disease was different. It was killing people fast. When he took liver samples with a long needle, the same thing would happen — blood would continue to gush.
He persuaded one of the nuns who had the disease to fly with him to Kinshasa. He took blood samples before she died and sent them to Belgium, where they had an electron microscope to try to identify the culprit. Scientists there and in the United States saw this was a new virus that caused hemorrhagic fever.
They named it Ebola, after a river near the village.