The recent deaths of Rep. Elijah Cummings and former Rep. John Conyers Jr. have shaken members of the Congressional Black Caucus particularly hard. But their deaths have also been felt by the entire body of Congress as well as millions of U.S. citizens.
Both men dedicated a significant portion of their lives to breaking down walls of racism, bettering the lives of their constituents and leading by example in their collective mission to bring our country into adherence with its lofty creeds. And despite any shortcomings which Reps. Cummings or Conyers may have had, America remains a better place because of their visionary efforts and contributions.
During the tribute to Cummings held last week in the District, one of his colleagues shared his thoughts about his longtime friend, describing their relationship as one that bore “unexpected outcomes.”
While these musings on the surface may bring many listeners solace, we would suggest that positive outcomes should be what we anticipate in any collaboration between two Americans who bring education, experience and determination to the table, regardless of race, creed, color, gender or sexual orientation.
We will only become the kind of country that our Founding Fathers hoped to bring to fruition when we look at one another as equal partners — recognizing the ties that bind us rather than wasting time to focus on the differences between us.
We are all Americans, after all. This was the message that both Cummings and Conyers worked so hard to share. Perhaps one day their mantra will become our reality. We remain confident that others will pick up the torch to keep their legacies alive and to build upon them for the good of all Americans and the world.