Elijah Cummings Funeral: Watch Obama, Clinton Eulogize Baltimore's Favorite Son In addition to the former presidents, Kweisi Mfume, Nancy Pelosi and Hillary Clinton had been expected to speak at the service at the New Psalmist Baptist Church in Baltimore.

Elijah Cummings Funeral: Watch Obama, Clinton Eulogize Baltimore's Favorite Son

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AILSA CHANG, HOST:

Political leaders past and present came to Baltimore today to mourn Congressman Elijah Cummings. Former Presidents Barack Obama and Bill Clinton were among those who paid tribute to the Maryland Democrat. Cummings died last week at the age of 68. His family, friends and colleagues today remembered him as a trailblazer, a mentor and an unwavering defender of both his native city and his country. NPR's Brakkton Booker was at the service and has this report.

BRAKKTON BOOKER, BYLINE: Elijah Cummings planned every detail of his funeral, including what Grammy Award-winning singer BeBe Winans would sing.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

BEBE WINANS: (Singing) After you've cried and prayed and done all you can...

BOOKER: The funeral was both a celebration of Cummings and a call to action, to fight for democracy and respect your political opponents like Cummings did. Former President Barack Obama, the nation's first black commander in chief, said it was Cummings' life that reflects the American dream.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

BARACK OBAMA: His life validates the things we tell ourselves about what's possible in this country - not guaranteed, but possible - the possibility that our destinies are not preordained.

BOOKER: Elijah Cummings was born and raised in Baltimore, the son of sharecroppers. At the time of his death, Cummings had become one of the most powerful members of Congress. And at a time when America's political divisions run deep, including Washington being in the middle of an impeachment inquiry, Obama says Cummings served with dignity.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

OBAMA: Elijah Cummings was honorable before he was elected office. There's a difference if you are honorable and treated others honorably.

(APPLAUSE)

BOOKER: House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, whose brother and father served as mayors of Baltimore, referred to Cummings as her Baltimore brother and called him the North Star of Congress, always willing to reach across the aisle.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

NANCY PELOSI: He made a difference in so many ways - fighting for gun violence prevention, recognizing the costs of prescription drugs hurt the health and economic well-being of America's working families, expanding opportunity for everyone.

BOOKER: When Democrats took control of the House earlier this year, Cummings became chairman of the powerful House Oversight Committee. It's one of the panels leading the impeachment inquiry into President Trump. Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said it's no coincidence Elijah Cummings shared the same name with a biblical prophet. That prophet Elijah, she says, fought against corrupt leadership.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

HILLARY CLINTON: Like that Old Testament prophet, our Elijah could call down fire from heaven.

(APPLAUSE)

BOOKER: When it was time for Cummings' widow Maya Rockeymoore Cummings to speak, she thanked the capacity of 4,000 attendees for giving him the opportunity to serve them. She says the last few months were difficult and not just because of his illness.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

MAYA ROCKEYMOORE CUMMINGS: What Congressman Chairman Cummings did was not easy, and it got infinitely more difficult in the last months of his life, when he sustained personal attacks and attacks on his beloved city.

BOOKER: She's referring to a summer tweet storm from President Trump, where he called Baltimore rat and rodent-infested and attacked Cummings' character. But, she said, her husband soldiered on.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

ROCKEYMOORE CUMMINGS: He had to go on to actually work to fight for the soul of our democracy against very real corruption.

BOOKER: Cummings leaves behind a wife and two daughters and legions of friends. One of them, Kweisi Mfume, the former head of the NAACP.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

KWEISI MFUME: He could be both provocative and evocative. He found a way to capture our will to dare to be different in communities all over the country, and then challenged us to dare to make a difference.

BOOKER: Mfume says Cummings made a difference in so many lives.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

UNIDENTIFIED CHOIR: (Singing) ...With my soul.

UNIDENTIFIED SINGER: (Singing) It is...

BOOKER: Brakkton Booker, NPR News, Baltimore.

(SOUNDBITE OF TALOS' "LIGHT (INTERLUDE)")

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