Bobby Lee Rush (born November 23, 1946) is the U.S. Representative for Illinois's 1st congressional district, serving since 1993. He is a member of the Democratic Party.
The district is located principally on the South Side of Chicago. It is a minority-majority district and has a higher percentage of African Americans (65%) than any other congressional district in the nation. Rush has the distinction of being the only person to date to defeat President Barack Obama in an election for public office, when Obama challenged him in a primary election in 2000. Rush is a member of the Congressional Black Caucus.
Early life and political activism
After dropping out of high school, Rush joined the U.S. People magazine. "We needed to arm ourselves." Rush was present when fellow Black Panther Fred Hampton was killed in a police raid and later made a official statement that the police, referred only to as "pigs" by Rush, had murdered Hampton. Rush's own apartment was raided in December 1969 where police discovered an unregistered pistol, rifle, shotgun and pistol ammunition, training manuals on explosives and booby traps, a small amount of marijuana and an assortment of communist literature. Earlier that same year Rush stated the philosophy his membership in the Black Panthers saying, "Black people have been on the defensive for all these years. The trend now is not to wait to be attacked. We advocate offensive violence against the power structure."
Army in 1963 but went AWOL and received an honorable discharge in 1968. Throughout the 1960s Rush was involved in the civil-rights movement. He worked in civil-disobedience campaigns in the South, and co-founded the Illinois chapter of the Black Panthers in 1968 and was made its "defense minister". His son, Huey, was named after Panther leader Huey Newton. "We were reacting to police brutality, to the historical relationship between African-Americans and recalcitrant racist whites," Rush later told
Imprisoned for six months in 1972 on a weapons charge after carrying a gun into a police station, Rush nonetheless worked on several non-violent projects that built support for the Black Panthers in African American communities. People. That was distasteful to the deeply religious Rush, who is a born-again Christian. He went on to say that "I don't repudiate any of my involvement in the Panther party—it was part of my maturing." He subsequently resumed his education in the early 1990s at the McCormick Seminary and received a master's degree in theology.
He coordinated a medical clinic that offered sickle-cell anemia testing on an unprecedented scale. Rush graduated with honors from Chicago's Roosevelt University in 1973. A year later he left the Panthers, who were already in decline. "We started glorifying thuggery and drugs," he told
After leaving the Panther Party, Rush sold insurance for a time in the early 1970s.
Early political career
Rush ran for a seat on Chicago's city council in 1974. The first of several black militants who later sought political office, he was defeated. In the early 1980s, however, Chicago's political life was transformed by the ascendancy of U.S. Representative Harold Washington, a noted orator and a charismatic figure who helped unite the city's African American community. Washington was elected mayor of Chicago in 1983, the first African-American to ever hold the office.
That same year, Rush was elected alderman from the Second Ward on Chicago's South Side. He was one of the pro-Harold Washington faction on the Council during the "Council Wars" that began in 1983 following Washington's election as Mayor of Chicago in a racially-polarized contest.
Rush ran for mayor of Chicago in 1999 but was defeated by the incumbent Richard M. Daley.
U.S. House of Representatives
- Rush is the sponsor of the Melanie Blocker-Stokes Postpartum Depression Research and Care Act, named for Melanie Blocker-Stokes, a Chicago native who jumped to her death from a 12th story window due to postpartum depression. The bill would provide for research on postpartum depression and psychosis and services for individuals suffering from these disorders.
- He sponsored legislation re-designating two United States Postal Service facilities in Illinois' 1st district as the James E. Worsham Post Office and the James E. Worsham Carrier Annex Building.
- Rush sponsored the Nursing Relief for Disadvantaged Areas Act passed in 1999. The law temporarily addressed the nursing shortage by providing non-immigrant visas for qualified foreign nurses in the Englewood neighborhood of Chicago and was reauthorized in 2005.
- The Children's Health Act passed in 2000 incorporated Rush's Urban Asthma Reduction Act of 1999, amending the Preventive Health and Health Services Block Grant program and includes an integrated approach to asthma management.
- Rush initiated the Chicago Partnership for the Earned Income Tax Credit, an ongoing program designed to help low-income working Chicagoans receive the Earned Income Tax Credit, a federal income tax credits.
- Rush has brought close to $2 billion of federal funding since his election, including a $1 million federal grant from the Office of Naval Research to the Illinois Institute of Technology to develop better ways to assess the presence of chemical and biological agents.
- Rush introduced the Blair Holt's Firearm Licensing and Record of Sale Act of 2009 on January 6, 2009. This bill, if signed into law would require all owners of hand guns and semiautomatic firearms to register for a federal firearms license. All sales of the subject firearms would have to go through a licensed dealer. The bill would also make it a criminal act not to register as an owner of a firearm. H.R. 45 was referred to the judiciary committee in 2009.
In the 2000 Democratic primary for the U.S. House of Representatives (IL-01), Rush defeated a challenge from then-state senator Barack Obama. During the primary, Rush said: "Barack Obama went to Harvard and became an educated fool. Barack is a person who read about the civil-rights protests and thinks he knows all about it."
On July 15, 2004, Rush became the second sitting member of Congress (following Charles Rangel and preceding Joe Hoeffel) to be arrested for trespassing while protesting the genocide in Darfur and other violations of human rights in Sudan in front of the Sudanese Embassy.
Though a very close friend to Bill Clinton and Hillary Rodham Clinton, Rush announced early on that he would support Barack Obama in the 2008 primaries, and later his presidential campaign.
Rush proposed that an African-American should be appointed to fill Obama's vacant seat in the U.S. Senate. During a press conference, Rush said, "With the resignation of President-elect Obama, we now have no African American in the United States Senate, and we believe it will be a national disgrace to not have this seat filled by one of the many capable African American Illinois politicians." Rush said he did not support any one individual in particular for Senate, and was not interested in being appointed himself. On December 30, 2008, Governor Rod Blagojevich announced his appointment of Roland Burris, a former African-American Attorney General of Illinois. Rush was present at the press conference and spoke in support of Burris. Rush has since commented further on Senate Democrats not seating Burris, telling them not to "hang or lynch" Burris.
On February 13, 2007, Rush opposed President George W. Bush's proposed 20,000 serviceman troop surge in Iraq. He said the presence of the troops in Iraq is the greatest catalyst of violence in Iraq, and advocated a political resolution of the Iraq situation. Towards the close of his speech, Rep. Rush stated that the troop surge would only serve to make the Iraqi situation more volatile.
On November 5, 2007, Rush proclaimed his support for National Bible Week, saying that he had not always been an ardent reader of the Bible, but after having been elected to the House, he received a copy in 1993 and that while in Chicago with his wife, he was drawn to read the Bible and is now a ferocious reader. He quoted Micah 6:6-8 and Luke 4:18. At the close of the speech, he called on Christians and non-Christians alike to read the Bible.
In 2011, Rush was one of only two congressmen to vote against H.R. 2715 which corrected a law passed in 2008 that unintentionally banned the sale of motorcycles and ATV's for children.
The nation's first mass sickle cell anemia testing program was created by a clinic run by Rush.
In 2008, Bobby Rush had a rare type of malignant tumor removed from his salivary gland.
Rush is a member of Iota Phi Theta.
October 25th, 2011