Black Baptist church shaped Cummings’ commitment

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FILE – In this Sunday, March 30, 2003 file photo, Congressional Black Caucus Chairman Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., speaks about affirmative action, accompanied by Rep. John Conyers, D-Mich., left, and Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee, D-Texas, right, during a church service at Community of Faith Church in Houston. “Although Congressman Cummings was not a preacher in the sense of being ordained and licensed, him being a preacher’s kid made him pretty close and made him very comfortable with ministers and clergy _ to a point where in many respects many of us in the clergy community, in the African-American community, almost regarded him as a preacher,” said the Rev. Charles Williams II, senior pastor of Detroit’s Historic King Solomon Missionary Baptist Church. (AP Photo/Michael Stravato)

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DETROIT (AP) — To many black clergy, Maryland Rep. Elijah E. Cummings was more than a formidable orator, civil rights champion and passionate public servant.

He was also one of them — in practice, if not profession.

Ministers and historians say Cummings, son of a sharecropper and pastors who died last Thursday at 68, is one of the last leaders from a generation forged by the African American church and its concentrated influence on society during the Civil Rights era.

Cummings used his fiery voice to highlight the struggles and needs of inner-city residents.

The Rev. Dr. Kelly Brown Douglas of Union Theological Seminary says Cummings’ actions embodied the black church “at its best.”

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