According to Nick Iacovella, a spokesman for Mr. Rubio, the mix-up with the photo of Mr. Rubio and Mr. Cummings happened because of a mislabeled photo. The original photo, taken in February 2014 by the Philadelphia Inquirer photojournalist Lauren Schneiderman, was removed from Ms. Schneiderman’s personal website.
Screenshots show that caption information indeed identified Mr. Cummings as Mr. Lewis.
“Senator Sullivan’s staff made a mistake trying to honor an American legend,” Mike Anderson, a spokesman for Mr. Sullivan, said in an email on Saturday.
Twitter was quick to criticize Mr. Rubio for confusing the congressmen.
Mr. Lewis died at 80 Friday. He announced in December that he had Stage 4 pancreatic cancer. One of the original 13 Freedom Riders, he was a powerful force in the U.S. civil rights movement, helping organize the March on Washington and other demonstrations.
Mr. Cummings, Democrat of Maryland, died in Oct. 17 at 68 in Baltimore. At the time of his death, he was serving his 13th term in the House of Representatives.
Amid the nationwide unrest that grew out of the death of George Floyd, a Black man who died in May after an encounter with the Minneapolis police, the treatment of Black Americans has been brought to the front of the country’s political consciousness. Black employees, for instance, have been subject to indignities such as being mistaken for a fellow Black co-worker.
For all its prestige, Capitol Hill is still just another workplace, and the senators’ posts were far from the first instances of Mr. Cummings and Mr. Lewis’s having been confused for each other.
In late December, CBS News apologized for incorrectly showing a photo of Mr. Cummings when referring to Mr. Lewis. In June 2019, a Fox News anchor, Eric Shawn, apologized for confusing the congressmen, even with Mr. Lewis’s nameplate being in the news clip.