Tributes continue to pour in for the West Baltimore congressman who was a longtime member of the oldest African-American Greek-lettered organization. Gamma Boulé, the Sigma Pi Phi fraternity chapter in Baltimore, released a statement on the passing of the congressman Thursday. Elijah E. Cummings joined Phi Beta Kappa while he was at Howard University, a historically black college and university (HBCU) in Washington D.C.
The 2018 photo posted on the Elijah Cummings Facebook page is captioned “So inspiring to run into the Howard University Choir today. Glad to see my alma mater on the move and sharing their talent with the world.”
Sigma Pi Phi’s council of noblemen or “the Boulé” have similar professional and cultural interests as college Black Greek-letter organizations like Phi Beta Kappa, which is an honorary society of university undergraduates to which members are elected on the basis of high academic achievement.
Cummings graduated with honors from the Baltimore City College high school in 1969. He then attended Howard University in Washington, D.C., where he served in the student government as sophomore class president, student government treasurer and later student government president. He became a member of the Phi Beta Kappa Society and graduated in 1973 with a Bachelor’s degree in Political Science.
“Archon Cummings was a product of our HBCU system, graduating from Howard University Phi Beta Kappa,” the statement said.
“Cummings was a long-time member of Gamma Boulé and served on the Grand Social Action Policy Committee with distinction,” said the statement signed by Gregory J. Vincent, Grand Sire Archon of the Sigma Pi Phi Fraternity. “Notably, Archon Cummings gave the Luncheon Address at the Inaugural HBCU Forum in 2017 and was featured on the cover of the Fall 2017 issue of the Boulé Journal.”
Members of Sigma Pi Phi include Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., W. E. B. Du Bois, and former NAACP President Kweisi Mfume.
Congressman Cummings “will be remembered for his dedication to his constituents,” the Gamma Boulé statement said. “The nation, the state of Maryland, his home city of Baltimore and Sigma Pi Phi greatly benefited from his dedication to the greater good.”
In one of his many interviews with Black Engineer magazine, Cummings talked about his work to make technology accessible to more Americans.
“There are a lot of African Americans who are saying ‘We can compete. We can make it if the playing field is level.’ But they don’t necessarily blame disparities all on race. They blame them more on a lot of the people their age growing up in a system as I described at West Baltimore Middle School, where resources were limited. As the saying goes, our children are the little messages we send to a future we will never see.”
Read the full interview “A Computer in Every Home” online in Black Engineer magazine’s 2001 Community Technology edition.