Elijah Cummings (1951-2019) was a renowned lawyer, state legislator, and leading United States congressman. In this exquisitely illustrated picture book for children ages 6 and older, young readers will discover the forces that shaped his life. Before Elijah was born, his parents, former sharecroppers, moved from South Carolina to Baltimore, Md., to escape the scourge of racism. Years later, Elijah observed, “They had faith that God was leading them to a place where their children would have a better chance in life.”
Elijah’s parents had achieved a fourth-grade education, but they wanted more for their children and raised them to value education and strive for success. Though Elijah worked hard to learn his lessons, he struggled because at home the noise and crowded space distracted him from studying. He found help at a nearby library, one of the few places he could go where Black and white people were welcome. Kind librarians stayed after their working day to tutor him. As an adult, Elijah acknowledged the role they played in his life: “The librarians and books ... did something more than teach me history and English and math. They helped me to define myself as a human being. They became the role models for my life.”
As Elijah grew into adolescence, his parents and their Christian faith continued to shape his worldview and sense of justice. About his mother, who often shared with people in need even though she struggled to feed her own family, Elijah wrote, “My mother was one of the smartest, most thoughtful and loving people I have ever known. She created a home for me, my dad, and my six siblings where God was at the center and love overflowed.”
Called “the North Star of Equal Justice,” Elijah Cummings served God and the American people, living out the Christian worldview formed in him through the prayers and love of his faithful parents. Still today, after his death, he is an extraordinary role model for children because his life fulfilled the biblical imperative to act justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with God (Micah 6:8).
(Random House Studio)