CBS: Rep. Elijah Cummings’ life: “pain, passion and purpose”

To understand Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Maryland), the new chairman of the House Oversight and Reform Committee with the power to investigate and subpoena the Trump administration, is to recognize the humble upbringing and life lessons that have shaped his worldview.

In an interview with 60 Minutes, Cummings talked with correspondent Steve Kroft about his childhood in Baltimore. His parents moved to the city before he was born because they wanted their children to have a better life. Sharecroppers from South Carolina, his parents had been taken out of school in the fourth grade to plow fields and to pick tobacco and strawberries. In Baltimore, the seven children and two adults lived in a three-room house.

“My life is based on pain, passion, and purpose,” Cummings told Kroft.

From an early age, Cummings’ parents instilled in him a belief that he could achieve new things.

“My mom and dad, although they may not have had a lot of formal education, they were two of the most brilliant people that I know,” Cummings told Kroft. “They were always looking for teaching opportunities.”

In the clip above, Cummings describes one such occasion. Every few weeks, he put on a tie and shined his shoes, and his father packed the family in the car. They drove to the airport, not to leave town, but simply to watch the planes take off.

“Every time, as if he did not remember that he had said it before, he said, ‘I have not flied, I may not fly, but you will fly one day,'” Cummings recalled. “He said, ‘We can’t afford it right now, but you will fly.’ And he meant that. And we flew.”

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