Congressman Elijah E. Cummings was serving his fourth term in the House of Representatives when he gave a wide-ranging interview to Black Engineer magazine. In the 2001 feature, Cummings talked about the hurdles that must be cleared to make technology accessible to more Americans. Below are a few quotes from this memorable interview with the congressman.

Read the full interview “A Computer in Every Home” online in Black Engineer magazine’s 2001 Community Technology edition.

“West Baltimore Middle School, where I visited on the day of the Million Family March, I taught a class there and it was very distressing to learn they had 13 computers for 1,300 students. So, then, I think about the fact that in this legislative office we employ about 20 people and every single person that we hire has to have computer skills. This is not a high-tech office. Everything is still computerized.”

“About a year ago, I visited a Domino Sugar plant in Baltimore. That plant has really gone through a computer revolution. And because of that, they were able to retrain and/or retire some people. In other words, they shrunk the workforce, and they are now able to produce a 5-pound bag of sugar for the same amount that it cost 30 years ago. That shows you how significant this whole high-tech thing is. They really don’t want to hire people unless they do have some kind of computer skills.”

“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.”

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