Obama spoke during the funeral service for Cummings held at New Psalmist Baptist Church in Baltimore, Maryland. He recognized the congressman and civil rights champion for his dedication as a public servant, and for his genuine kindness.
The former president said that after listening to the eulogies delivered by Cummings’ daughters earlier in the service, he reflected that he would want his own daughters to know that “being a strong man includes being kind.”
“That there is nothing weak about kindness and compassion,” Obama said. “There is nothing weak about looking out for others. There is nothing weak about being honorable. You are not a sucker to have integrity and to treat others with respect.”
“I was sitting here and I was just noticing the Honorable Elijah E. Cummings and you know, this is a title that we confer on all kinds of people who get elected to public office,” he continued. “We’re supposed to introduce them as honorable. But Elijah Cummings was honorable before he was elected to office. There’s a difference. There is a difference if you are honorable and treated others honorably outside the limelight.”
Obama was joined by other prominent politicians who delivered remarks at the funeral service, including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and former President Bill Clinton.
Cummings, who was the chairman of the House Oversight and Reform Committee, died on Oct. 17 at age 68 “due to complications concerning longstanding health challenges,” his office said.
On Thursday, the representative, who was a son of sharecroppers, became the first Black elected official to lie in state in the Capitol, The New York Times reported.
Elsewhere in his remarks on Friday, Obama said, “as president, I knew I could always count on Elijah being honorable and doing the right thing.”
He later added, “Elijah Cummings was a man of noble and good heart. His parents and his faith planted the seeds of hope, and love, and compassion, and righteousness in that good soil of his.”
“He has harvested all the crops that he could, for the Lord has now called Elijah home, to give his humble, faithful servant rest,” he continued. “And it now falls on us to continue his work, so that other young boys and girls in Baltimore, across Maryland, across the United States, and around the world might too have a chance to grow and to flourish. That’s how we will honor him.”
Watch Obama’s entire speech below: