A 1996 House speech by Rep. Elijah Cummings has been brought back into public consciousness following the news of his death. The Maryland congressman passed away Thursday morning at the age of 68, according to NBC News.
The speech shown in the video came shortly after he was sworn into Congress by then-Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich on April 25, 1996. During his first speech from the floor of the House of Representatives, he thanked his mentors and colleagues, including former Maryland Reps. Kweisi Mfume and Parren Mitchell.
“My mission is one that comes out of a vision that was created long, long ago. It is a mission and a vision to empower people,” Cumming said in 1996. “...to make people realize that the power is within them, that they too can do the things that they want to do.”
Cummings went on to cite a poem written by Civil Rights pioneer Dr. Benjamin Mays, which he credited Mitchell as reciting many times.
“There’s a poem that Parren Mitchell said many many years ago that I say sometimes 20 times a day, and it’s a very simple poem, but it’s one that I live by,” Cummings explained before continuing into the poem. “‘I only have a minute. Sixty seconds in it. Forced upon me, I did not choose it. But I know that I must use it, give account if I abuse it, suffer if I lose it. Only a tiny little minute, but eternity is in it.’”
Cummings, who served as House Committee chairman ever since, died from health complications “concerning longstanding health challenges."
According to The Associated Press, he hadn't taken part in a roll call vote since Sept. 11, failing to return to work after receiving a medical procedure he said would only keep him away for a week.