*Dr. Maya Rockeymoore-Cummings is a career politician with over two decades in public service. She has not only served as Vice President of Research and Programs at the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation but she was a Senior Resident Scholar at the National Urban League and the Chief of Staff for Congressman Charles Rangel (Democrat NY). Maya was a force to be reckoned with while working for the House Ways and Means Committee, which is where she met her late husband Congressman Elijah Cummings (Democrat Maryland’s 7th District).
While amassing her many achievements and working on various platforms, Maya felt compelled to provide guidance for young people seeking to be included and impactful in politics. The result is her book “The Political Action Handbook: A How To Guide For The Hip Hop Generation.”
With the emergence of so many young activists, EURweb felt the need to reach out to Dr. Rockeymoore-Cummings to discuss her advice for young people. Maya informed us that she is working on a new edition of the book which was first published in 2004, however Dr. Rockeymoore Cummings’ wisdom is still timely for today. She spoke with EURweb’s LaRita Shelby and a young guest reporter, Nikolas Steed.
Shelby: “For starters the strength of the youth is that they are brave, and they move with vigor when they are driven by a purpose. Recent protests, as well as protests throughout history have been fueled by the energy of the youth. What is your take on the outpouring of youth engagement in the current uprisings around the globe?”
Dr. Maya R. Cummings: “History has shown that when any significant political action or change has occurred throughout society, it has been driven by students and young people. I saw a need to address the concerns of young people who wanted to get involved but didn’t know how.”
Nikolas Steed asked what inspired Dr. Maya to write the book.
Dr. Maya R. Cummings: “I was on a Hip Hop and politics panel back in 2003 and a young man asked for specific instructions on what he could do to help his generation. A few panelists gave general answers and suggested a website or two, but I could tell that the young man was seeking more. It was at that moment that it occurred to me that the Hip Hop Generation could use a guidebook.”
Young people are often defined by the music of the day, and for the past 30 years, that music has been predominately Hip Hop. Today the outrage is for justice for George Floyd, Michael Brown, Tamir Rice, Breonna Tyler and countless others. In addition to the protests and sharing of thoughts and memes on social media, Dr. Maya gives details on how the energy can be mobilized to impact tangible and measurable change.
Dr. Maya R. Cummings: “Voting is like the toss of a coin at the beginning of a game. It determines which candidates and political parties get the advantage to make the laws and rules governing our communities, states, and nation. But like a coin toss once the election is over, there is still a game to be played with all kinds of roles that need to be filled and actions that need to be taken. We need lobbyists, advocates, policy experts, organizers, strategists, party leaders, and protesters working with (or against) elected officials to drive public policy and the distribution of resources. We need people knocking on doors, educating the public, sitting in meetings, pressuring decisionmakers, proposing ideas, writing opeds, and a host of other actions to move an agenda that will improve lives and communities.”
Hip Hop culture has a swag that is infectious and attracts millions of followers worldwide. This kind of power can raise attention for issues that are important to sub-cultures based on economics, race, gender, healthcare, police reform and any number of special interests. By understanding who is put into office at all levels of government, the Hip Hop generation can help elect candidates that respect their values and will fight for those initiatives when it comes to funding and redressing the legal and judicial strongholds that resist change. Twenty years ago more than 60% of the Hip Hop generation did not vote. This inactivity at the polls cannot be tolerated in the current political climate. Too much is at stake. Dr. Maya describes the Hip Hop generation as a sleeping giant that can rule the world if mobilized through education, organization and action.
Nikolas Shabazz Steed (a Morehouse student and resident of Los Angeles) sat in on EURweb’s interview with Dr. Maya Rockeymoore-Cummings. He summed it up like this.
Nikolas Steed: “It was an honor and privilege to listen to a lifetime-dedicated activist and accomplished Black woman as she provides political counsel and advice to the youth through her journey in the fight for racial justice. Recognizing her late husband Congressman Elijah Cummings and the recent passing of civil rights icons John Lewis & CT Vivian, I recognize that we must learn from previous generations how to effectively act and demand change. In today’s world, its important that we recognize our front-line fighters. Not only protesters, but those who do the ground-work – the lobbyists, public and government officials, policy makers, etc. At the end of the day, if we’re protesting about policy and not voting – it would be a waste of time and our cries would fall on deaf ears.”
“The Political Action Handbook: A How To Guide For The Hip Hop Generation” offers practical resources for African Americans, Asian & Asian-Pacific Americans, Hispanic Americans, young voters, women voters and voters from all of the major parties. The book is available at Amazon.com. Dr. Maya Rockeymoore-Cummings’ sequel to this book is forthcoming but don’t wait for it. This book is a perfect start to help young people and newbies get into the game and become an active participant in achieving systematic change. Dr. Rockeymoore-Cummings is also the Founder, President and CEO of Global Policy Solutions LLC. Find out more at http://globalpolicysolutions.com/
LaRita “Jazzy Rita” Shelby is a writer & entertainer and Director of Digital Strategy & Sales for EURweb.com, newly branded Everything Urban & Radioscope. Winner of MIMPA’S 2020 Entertainment Journalist of the Year Award & Proud member of Sigma Gamma Rho. LaRita is the author of The Brand Beside the Brand and On My Father’s Side. Chat, swap ideas & vision at [email protected]