U.S. Rep. Elijah E. Cummings made a surprise appearance at Southern High School's graduation ceremony last night to present senior Antuan Ross Scott with a Congressional citation for his achievements and a $1,000 scholarship.
Cummings said he was giving the scholarship money out of his own pocket because he was "so moved" by a profile of Scott, 19, in Thursday's Sun.
A chronic truant in the eighth-grade, Scott was one of 142 seniors to graduate this year from Southern, where he ranked in the top 10 percent of his class and commanded the Army ROTC unit. Now bound for college and a career in the military, he had to rise above a number of hurdles: a brother in prison for murder, an 18-month-old son he cares for himself, and the poverty and crime of the O'Donnell Heights public housing projects.
"I come here to pay homage to you and your greatness," Cummings said to an auditorium full of students, parents, and school officials, who gave Scott a 20-second standing ovation. "I just feel very strongly for him."
Scott says he will need about $7,000 a year to pay for room, board and tuition, at Morgan State or the University of Maryland Eastern Shore. He already had received a $3,200 scholarship from the state government.
Cummings, who grew up in South Baltimore at 126 West Cross St., said Scott's academic rise reminded him of his own struggles. The congressman predicted that Scott, who is black, will grow up to "be the kind of brother who will be a missionary" between the white-dominated world of business and government and the world of young, black men who grow up on the streets.
Cummings, a Democrat, was elected to the 7th Congressional District seat in April.
Pub Date: 6/08/96