I wrote last week that The Associated Press’ obituary on Congressman Elijah E. Cummings of Maryland was haunted by religion ghosts.
I pointed to the strong role of faith in Cummings’ life and noted that publications such as the Washington Post and Cummings’ hometown Baltimore Sun reflected it.
I voiced hope that AP would recognize that angle in its later coverage.
As the Rolling Stones put it, “You Can’t Always Get What You Want.”
But hey, sometimes you can.
AP produced a solid piece out of Detroit this week on how the “Black Baptist church shaped Cummings’ commitment”:
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.
His upbringing, as “a preacher’s kid” gave him a comfort level with ministers and clergy to the point they “almost regarded him as a preacher,” said the Rev. Charles Williams II, senior pastor of Detroit’s Historic King Solomon Missionary Baptist Church.
Cummings, the son of a sharecropper and pastors who died last Thursday at 68, was among a generation of lawmakers, civil rights leaders and social justice advocates who grew up under the influence of the African American church. From Martin Luther King Jr.’s Ebenezer Baptist Church to Birmingham’s 16th Street Baptist Church, the black church is intertwined in African American history and the struggle for equality. It was the primary institution for organizing demonstrations, providing training and selecting leaders. Part of the role was instilling in those leaders a commitment to speaking for those who could not speak for themselves, giving one’s life in service to the community and standing against injustice.
Black pastors and historians alike remember Cummings, who will be buried in Baltimore Friday, as a man who absorbed the lessons of the church and exemplified its teachings in serving his constituents.