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‘Part memoir, part call to action,’ posthumous book from U.S. Rep. Elijah Cummings of Baltimore due in June

From left, Mayor Bernard C. "Jack" Young; Del. Talmadge Branch; Maya Rockeymoore Cummings, widow of the late U.S. Rep. Elijah Cummings, and Vernon Simms, Cummings' chief of staff, speak on a panel Monday about Cummings' life and career at the 14th annual Black History Month Celebration hosted by J4P Associates at the Maryland Eastside State Complex in Baltimore.
From left, Mayor Bernard C. "Jack" Young; Del. Talmadge Branch; Maya Rockeymoore Cummings, widow of the late U.S. Rep. Elijah Cummings, and Vernon Simms, Cummings' chief of staff, speak on a panel Monday about Cummings' life and career at the 14th annual Black History Month Celebration hosted by J4P Associates at the Maryland Eastside State Complex in Baltimore.(Amy Davis)

More than four months have passed since Baltimore Rep. Elijah Cummings died, but his work will continue with a book to be published later this year.

“We’re Better Than This,” a reference to a Cummings mantra, is due to be released in June, his widow, Maya Rockeymoore Cummings, said Monday.

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Speaking at a Black History Month ceremony honoring her husband’s legacy, Rockeymoore Cummings said he worked with ghostwriter James Dale for nearly a year on the book and it was 95% complete when Cummings died in October.

Rockeymoore Cummings said she helped Dale finish the book.

Calling it “part memoir, part call to action” publisher Harper Collins said in a news release that Cummings’ book retraces the congressman’s upbringing in Baltimore and explains how it prepared him to square off against Republican President Donald Trump.

Cummings was chairman of one of three U.S. House committees that led the impeachment inquiry into Trump last year, and he was a fierce defender of Baltimore — a position that put him the national spotlight last summer after Trump sharply criticized Cummings and his 7th Congressional District. In a series of tweets in July, Trump called Baltimore a “disgusting, rat and rodent infested mess.”

Cheretheria Blount of Baltimore, older sister of the late U.S. Rep. Elijah Cummings, uses her phone Monday to record a panel discussion on her brother at a Black History Month Celebration in Baltimore. Cummings' six siblings survive him.
Cheretheria Blount of Baltimore, older sister of the late U.S. Rep. Elijah Cummings, uses her phone Monday to record a panel discussion on her brother at a Black History Month Celebration in Baltimore. Cummings' six siblings survive him.(Amy Davis)

Rockeymoore Cummings said her husband will be best remembered for going toe-to-toe with Trump.

“He viewed Donald J. Trump as a threat to our democracy, and he was determined that he was going to defend and protect our democracy," she said.

Rockeymoore Cummings is one of more than a dozen candidates seeking the Democratic nomination April 28 to run for a full term in the 7th District. Other candidates include former U.S. Rep. Kweisi Mfume and state Sen. Jill P. Carter.

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Rockeymoore Cummings lost in a special primary earlier this month to fill the rest of Cummings’ term. The special primary winners, Mfume and Republican Kimberly Klacik, will face off in a special general election, also on April 28, to hold the office until January.

Vernon Simms, Cummings’ chief of staff, also spoke at Monday’s event at the Eastside State Complex. He recalled how Cummings was determined to continue his work the impeachment proceedings until just days before his death. Simms said Cummings called him from the hospital and asked him to have a staffer bring several subpoenas that only he could sign as committee chairman.

“The staff person took the subpoenas to the hospital and, almost in illegible writing, he signs the subpoenas,” Simms recalled. “Because it’s important to him to preserve this democracy.”

The book title is also a nod to Cummings’ lengthy dispute with the president. Last year, after a long day of testimony by Trump’s former attorney, Michael Cohen, Cummings implored his fellow lawmakers and citizens to improve.

“I’m sitting here listening to all this, and it’s very painful,” he said, addressing Cohen. “We are better than this. We really are. As a country, we are so much better than this.”

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