By J.J. McQueen
Special to the AFRO

In honor of the work of transcendent leaders, Johns Hopkins University has selected a portrait of the late Congressman Elijah Cummings as the first alongside Edith Windsor, another civil rights icon, to be installed at the university’s Milton S. Eisenhower Library in April. 

Cumming’s portrait artist Christopher Batten (Photos by J.J. McQueen)

The unveiling was held at the Henderson-Hopkins Elementary school in historic East Baltimore. In attendance were special guests, Dr. Maya Rockeymoore Cummings, wife of the late Congressman; Johns Hopkins University President Ronald J. Daniels; Delegate Stephanie Smith, Cumming’s portrait artist Christopher Batten; and host Peter Kannam, Henderson-Hopkins principal.

Dr. Maya RockeyMoore Cummings giving away a copy of Elijah Cummings Book. (Photos by J.J. McQueen)
Henderson Hopkins Students & Guests (Photos by J.J. McQueen)
Henderson-Hopkins Students (Photos by J.J. McQueen)
Johns Hopkins President Ronald J. Daniels (Photos by J.J. McQueen)
Delegate Stephanie Smith (Photos by J.J. McQueen)
Henderson Hopkins Art Students (Photos by J.J. McQueen)

Following the assembly, Batten facilitated a self-portrait session with the students of Henderson-Hopkins. During that time, he shared with them his passion for imagery and his love for comics. 

Elijah Cummings photo in the background during Christopher Batten’s lesson about using colors with Henderson-Hopkins Students. (Photos by J.J. McQueen)

The Detroit native said, “As an artist it was an honor to be selected for this project. It gave me the opportunity to learn more about the late Congressman. I also had the chance to use color as an expression of his importance, I was able to portray him with colors of royalty.”

Elijah Cummings Portrait (Photos by J.J. McQueen)

With education being at the forefront of everyone’s mind, Daniels said, “I was also a student of Elijah Cummings. He always challenged me and never hesitated to call me out if he felt I hadn’t done my homework. He not only challenged us, but he held us to a high standard. He also believed in us.”

It’s the spirit of the belief that drove many of the late Congressman’s initiatives, Rockeymoore Cummings said, “Elijah was 11-years old when he became a protestor. He was inspired to become an attorney after being led on a protest march for swimming pool integration by Juanita Jackson Mitchell.” 

Del. Smith said to the students, “Your perspectives matter to us. As law makers we listen to your thoughts and ideas about the world. We get many of our ideas from you, and even though you’re not old enough to make the new laws, we get inspired by what you share with us.”

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