We’re Better Than This: My Fight for the Future of Our Democracy

Dr. Maya Rockeymoore Cummings
In Conversation With James Dale
Tuesday, February 9, 2021
Episode Summary

In a final call to action from a dearly missed champion of democracy, Elijah Cummings’ new posthumously published memoir offers an inspiring lesson of how we can do better in this country. Born and raised in Baltimore, Cummings was the first of his family to attend college. After graduating Phi Beta Kappa and then law school, he began his career of public service in the Maryland House of Delegates. He became the first African-American in Maryland history to be named Speaker Pro Tem before being sworn in as a member of the U.S. House of Representatives in 1996, where Congressman Cummings proudly represented Maryland’s 7th District until his passing in 2019. Known for his poise, intellect, and influence, Cummings was one of the most respected figures in contemporary politics, serving the people of Baltimore and illustrating the importance of working with—and for—the underdog. Yet in his final years of life, Cummings recognized that democracy was the underdog. We’re Better Than This draws from Cummings’s own life to show the formative moments that prepared him for the disturbing first years of the Trump presidency and spurred him to hold the administration accountable for their actions. Sharing his legacy with ALOUD, the late Congressman’s widow, Dr. Maya Rockeymoore Cummings, is a social entrepreneur, speaker, writer, strategist, and a former chair of the Maryland Democratic Party who is on a mission to drive society toward inclusion. She’ll be joined in conversation with the coauthor of the book, James Dale, as they reflect on Cummings’ urgent message for preserving our democracy as our country moves forward with a new administration.

Participant(s) Bio

Congressman Elijah E. Cummings was born and raised in Baltimore, Maryland, and died there on October 17, 2019. He earned his bachelor’s degree in Political Science from Howard University, serving as Student Government President and graduating Phi Beta Kappa, and then graduated from the University of Maryland School of Law. Congressman Cummings dedicated his life of service to uplifting and empowering the people he represented. He began his career of public service in the Maryland House of Delegates, where he served sixteen years and became the first African American in Maryland's history to be named Speaker Pro Tem. First sworn in as a member of the U.S. House of Representatives in 1996, Congressman Cummings has proudly represented Maryland's 7th District since 1996. He became a Ranking Member of the House Committee on Oversight and Reform in 2011 and was appointed as Chairman of the Committee in 2019. 
James Dale has been an author-collaborator on a number of books on topics including business, medicine, and life lessons. His works include The Power of Nice with agent-negotiator Ron Shapiro; Just Show Up with Hall of Fame baseball player Cal Ripken Jr.; and The Q Factor with Super Bowl–winning coach Brian Billick.

Dr. Maya Rockeymoore Cummings is a social entrepreneur, speaker, writer, and strategist who’s on a mission to drive society toward inclusion. After a quarter of a century of working on innovative public policy and multimillion-dollar social change initiatives in the government, nonprofit, and private sectors, Maya is a policy and political expert who understands how to build and sustain cross-sector collaborations, diverse coalitions, dynamic diversity, equity, and inclusion strategies, and effective education campaigns. An accomplished public speaker and author, Maya has appeared in a variety of media outlets such as CBS, CNN, MSNBC, Fox News, and BET, and her writings have been published in the New York Times, The Atlantic, The Huffington Post, and the Washington Post among other publications. She has served on numerous boards, including the National Association of Counties Financial Services Corporation, the National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare, and the National Academy of Social Insurance. She is the recipient of multiple honors, such as the Aspen Institute Henry Crown Fellowship Award and the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation Fellowship Award, and has been a candidate for Maryland governor and the U.S. Congress. A former chair of the Maryland Democratic Party, Maya earned her B.A. in political science from Prairie View A&M University and her M.A. and Ph.D. in political science, with an emphasis in public policy, from Purdue University. She is the widow of the late Congressman Elijah E. Cummings and lives in West Baltimore with her dog Andy.