Last fall, many were devastated by the death of beloved Maryland Rep. Elijah Cummings at the age of 68. A Baltimore native, Cummings served as the representative of the mostly Black district that encompassed Baltimore for 23 years.
After much speculation, his seat has been filled by the man he replaced many years ago.
According to NBC News, Tuesday, Kweisi Mfume – a Maryland Democrat who previously represented the Baltimore district from 1987 to 1996 – took the oath of office only a week after being elected to fill the seat for the remainder of Cummings’ term.
Mfume left the House to become chair of the NAACP, remaining in that role until 2004. While his return marks a full circle moment of sorts, the gravity of taking over for the revered lawmaker, during a pandemic no less, wasn’t lost on Mfume.
COVID-19 has disproportionately affected Black communities for a myriad of reasons. As the representative of the majority black Baltimore-area district that President Donald Trump once called a “disgusting, rat and rodent-infested mess,” the 71-year-old wasted no time addressing the main issues in his return.
After he took the oath from House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., Mfume touched on how bigotry and hate “ultimately deplete us as a nation.” He also acknowledged that the country is going through “its greatest economic collapse,” citing people who “haven’t had a paycheck in weeks” that he plans to help.
Maryland has been hit hard by COVID-19.
Baltimore has had 3662 coronavirus cases with 155 deaths. Prince George’s County, an affluent Maryland suburb that is home to some of the wealthiest African-Americans in the country, has had more than double that number.
Mfume is expected to be re-elected in the fall to serve a full two-year term at The House which is currently made up of 233 Democrats, 196 Republicans, one independent and five vacancies.
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