Bobby Rush

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Bobby Rush

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Bobby L. Rush is a far left Democratic member of the United States House of Representatives, representing the 1st district of Illinois. He is married to Carolyn Rush.

Rush is an honorably discharged Army veteran and an ordained minister with a Master’s Degree in Theology. In addition to his congressional responsibilities, Rush is the pastor of the Beloved Community Christian Church of Chicago.

He and his wife of more than years, Carolyn Rush , have a blended family with six children including a son who lost his life to gun violence in 1999.[1]

Early life

Bobby Rush was born in Albany, Georgia on November 23, 1946. His family moved to Chicago when he was young, where they settled on the West Side. Bobby Rush attended Marshall High School.

After dropping out of high school, Rush joined the U.S. Army in 1963, joining the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee in 1966. He went AWOL in 1968, co-founded the state's Black Panther Party while stationed in Chicago and received an honorable discharge in 1968.[2]

Bobby Rush 1969, Black Panther

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 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. [3]

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.

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. 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 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."[5] He subsequently resumed his education in the early 1990s at the McCormick Seminary and received a master's degree in theology.[4]

After leaving the Panther Party, Rush sold insurance for a time in the early 1970s.

Weapons charge

On December 5, 1969 police raided the apartment of Black Panther leader Bobby Rush. They found a handgun, ammunition for various weapons, marijuana, an IED explosives manual, and communist literature including Che Guevara and Mao Tse-Tung. Bobby Rush served six months in prison for illegal possession of firearms. [5]

Chicago City Council

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 1983, however, Chicago's political life was transformed by the election of leftist Harold Washington to the Mayoralty. 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.

Mayoralty tilt

In 1998 Bobby Rush was busy preparing for a tilt at the Chicago mayoralty.

At his campaign launch, Rush was introduced by Communist Party USA affiliates Reps Danny Davis, Jesse Jackson, Jr., and Mexican-American activist Emma Lozano, as well as by anti police brutality activist Rev. Jaul Jakes.[6]

DSA support

According to Charity Crouse of Chicago Democratic Socialists of America;[7]

With months to go until a formal announcement, Congressman Bobby Rush (D-1) has been preparing the groundwork for a full-scale grassroots campaign to take him to the fifth floor of City Hall by organizing the disenfranchised majority of Chicago's residents. The South Sider promises to provide a voice for poor and working people in city policies concerning housing, wages and economic opportunities.
Since the end of August, Rush has been meeting with community residents and campaign volunteers in what has come to be called the Rush for Change Organizing Committee. Setting a minimum goal of 50,000 registered voters and $250,000 in campaign funds by November before he officially announces his candidacy for mayor, Rush has been working to form a coalition of African Americans, Latinos and progressives into what he calls the democratic vanguard of the possible to help him unseat Richard M. Daley in the Spring.

DSA endorsed[8]Rush's mayoralty bid after some debate;

After some consideration, the December 12th, 1998, General Membership meeting of Chicago DSA voted to endorse Bobby Rush for Mayor of Chicago and a mix of nine incumbent and insurgent aldermanic candidates.

Bobby Rush lost[9]the race, receiving less than 30% of the vote.

DSA "recommendation"

When Bobby Rush ran for Congress in 1998, Democratic Socialists of America did not officially endorse any candidates but he was "recommended" as worthy of a vote[10]by Chicago DSA.

Bobby Rush, U.S. House of Representatives, 1st District
Bobby Rush is not a member of the Progressive Caucus, though he should be.

GI Civil Liberties Defense Committee

Circa 1969, Bobby Rush, Minister of Defense, Illinois Black Panther Party, was listed as a sponsor of the Socialist Workers Party-led GI Civil Liberties Defense Committee.[11]

Tribute to Golub and Montgomery

On November 16, 1989, Bobby Rush and Carolyn Rush served on the Tribute Committee for the Chicago Committee to Defend the Bill of Rights Tribute to Leon Golub and Lucy Montgomery, held at the Congress Hotel, Chicago.[12]

Communist Party USA connections

Canter connection

Long time Communist Party USA member David Canter served as an adviser to Bobby Rush. [13]

At Canter's memorial service, Congressman Bobby Rush addressed the mourners, saying that the highest praise he could give David Canter was that there wasn’t a racist bone in his body.[14]

People's World Dinner speaker


Bobby Rush was the guest speaker at the Chicago Communist Party USA's annual People's Weekly World fundraising banquet, September 20, 1997, which raised $6,000 to support the communist newspaper. 1997. Rep. Rush urged support for the Martinez Jobs Bill (HR-950), then before Congress. His sentiments were echoed by Congressman Danny Davis.

Rush was introduced by Katie Jordan of the Coalition of Labor Union Women.[15]

Supporting Communist youth

In 1997 The World Federation of Democratic Youth (WFDY), based in Budapest, denounced the U.S. Treasury Department's denial of a license for hundreds of young people from all over the U.S. to attend the 14th World Festival of Youth and Students in Havana, Cuba.

WFDY, an initiator of the festival scheduled for July 28 to Aug. 5, assailed the anti-democratic character of the decision and pledged an international campaign to demand that the U.S. government lift the travel ban.

According to the Communist Party USA paper Peoples Weekly World.[16];

Nationally, the broad list of sponsors and endorsers has already begun to mount a campaign.
Members of the U.S. Congress, Ron Dellums (D-Calif.), Jesse Jackson Jr and Bobby Rush, both Illinois Democrats, have offered support.

H.R. 950, the Job Creation and Infrastructure Restoration Act of 1997 was introduced in the 105th Congress on March 5, 1997 by Congressman Matthew Martinez of California. It had 33 original co-sponsors, including Bobby Rush. The primary purpose of this emergency federal jobs legislation was to provide much needed jobs at union wages to crisis ridden cities by putting the unemployed to work rebuilding our nation's infrastructure (schools, housing, hospitals, libraries, public transportation, highways, parks, environmental improvements, etc. $250 billion is authorized for emergency public works jobs over a five year period.

Congressman Martinez had previously introduced this bill in the last Congress (as HR 1591) at the the request of over 50 prominent Labor leaders who formed the Los Angeles Labor Coalition for Public Works Jobs, which is why it is often referred to as the "Martinez Public Works Jobs Bill."[17]

This is the most significant jobs legislation introduced in Congress since Franklin Delano Roosevelt's New Deal established the Works Progress Administration (WPA). This bill is the WPA-type program for today. It has strong provisions which will put hundreds of thousands of unemployed building trades workers to work as well as provide jobs for victims of plant closures, welfare recipients who are parents, youth, and the long term unemployed. The public works projects which will be established under this bill will be built in communities with the highest levels of unemployment and with the greatest needs.
The goal of the New York Coalition for Public Works Jobs is to build the movement to pass the Martinez Jobs bill as part of the National Labor Coalition for Public Works Jobs. You can help by asking your union, community organization, or local government body to to join those who have already passed resolutions to endorse the bill. Such a resolution has been introduced in the New York City Council. Calling on additional Congressional Representatives to co-sponsor the bill is very important. We will be organizing petition campaigns, visits to elected officials, and demonstrations and other actions for a public works jobs program.

The leaders of the Los Angeles Labor Coalition for Public Works Jobs and its only affiliate New York Coalition for Public Works Jobs, were all known supporters or members of the Communist Party USA.

Los Angeles , National Labor Coalition For Public Works Jobs

A New York affiliate, New York Coalition for Public Works Jobs, c/o Utility Workers Union of America Local 1-2.

Chicago Martinez Jobs Bill support rally

On October 18 1997, Tom Balanoff, president of SEIU local 73, and Chicago Jobs with Justice, and Rep. Bobby Rush addressed a Chicago "show us the living wage jobs" rally, as part of a national day of action, calling on Congress to pass the Martinez Jobs Bill. there were concurrent rallies in nearly 20 cities, organized by the Communist Party USA dominated National Labor-Community Coalition For Public Works Jobs.[18]

Addie Wyatt connection

Rev. Addie Wyatt's home was used to carry out meetings with public figures such as Rev. Jesse Jackson, President Barack Obama, and US Rep. Bobby Rush.[19]

Richard Criley Memorial

In 2000, Bobby Rush served as Co-Chairperson on the welcoming committee for the Chicago Memorial Service for Richard Criley, a long-time activist with the Communist Party USA and a leader of the Chicago Committee to Defend the Bill of Rights.[20]

2002 Chicago PWW banquet

Kathy Kelly, two-time nominee for the Nobel Peace Prize, and Ishmael Flory, long-time member of the Communist Party USA, headed the list of honorees at the 2002 annual Chicago People’s Weekly World/Nuestro Mundo banquet. Barbara Moore, vice president of the Coalition to Protect Public Housing, and a representative of the Carousel Linen workers rounded out the list of those who had been nominated to receive the Chris Hani/Rudy Lozano Award.

William McNary, president of USAction, was be the keynote speaker. "People’s artist" Peggy Lipschutz and singer Kristin Lems highlighted the afternoon’s cultural presentation.

“We are very proud of our honorees, keynote speaker and entertainers, all of whom represent the finest of today’s struggles for peace, justice and democracy,” John Bachtell, chair of the banquet committee, said. “They also represent the ideals for which Chris Hani and Rudy Lozano gave their lives.”

Bachtell said the banquet committee sees the event “as more than a fundraiser for the People’s Weekly World, important as that is. It is also planned as an opportunity to draw strength for a final push to defeat the right wing in this year’s election wars.”

Bachtell, organizer of the Illinois district of the Communist Party, said the election will be “even more crucial” if the Bush administration succeeds in its effort to win congressional approval for launching a war against Iraq. “We simply cannot allow such a crime to happen,” he said.

The Chris Hani/Rudy Lozano Award is named in honor of Chris Hani, one-time commander of the armed wing of African National Congress and General Secretary of the South African Communist Party, and Rudy Lozano, a Mexican-American activist and key player in the campaign that elected Harold Washington as Chicago mayor in 1983. Both were gunned down by assassins.

In addition to Bachtell, banquet sponsors included Rev. Willie Barrow, chair, Rainbow/PUSH Coalition board of directors; Chicago Alderman Theodore Thomas; Katie Jordan, president, Chicago Coalition of Labor Union Women; Rep. Bobby Rush; and Tom Balanoff, president, SEIU Local 1.

Doors opened at 2 p.m., Oct. 20, at the Three Happiness Café, 2130 S. Wentworth.[21]

Crossroads Fund

In 2007, Bobby Rush was an honorary host for the 25th Anniversary of the Crossroads Fund.[22] The fund, founded in 1981 supports community organizations working on "issues of social and economic justice" in the Chicago area.

Congressional Progressive Caucus

As of February 20 2009 Bobby Rush was listed as a member of the Congressional Progressive Caucus.[23]

Congressional Black Caucus

Bobby Rush is a member of the Congressional Black Caucus for the 113th Congress:[24]

Cuba trip

In early April 2009, Rep. Barbara Lee led a congressional delegation to Havana for a 4-1/2 hour meeting with Raul Castro, telling reporters, "All of us are convinced that President Castro would like normal relations and would see normalization, ending the embargo, as beneficial to both countries." Reuters reported that Lee's delegation "avoided specifics" with Castro "but were struck by his humor, impressed by his involvement in Third World causes and firm in their belief that he wants to end U.S.-Cuba enmity."

The meeting between Castro, Lee, and five other members of the Congressional Black Caucus, took place in secret without the customary presence of a US State Department official. No reporters attended, and according to the New York Times, Cuban television, which covered the visit, offered no details of what was said.

Reps. Emanuel Cleaver (D-MO), Marcia L. Fudge (D-OH), Laura Richardson (D-CA), Bobby Rush (D-IL), Melvin Luther Watt (D-CA), and Barbara Lee. "Also particpating were Patrice Willougby, executive assistant to the Congressional Black Caucus, and Eulada Watt, wife of Congressman Mel Watt,".

Bobby Rush said he found Raul Castro "to be just the opposite of how he's being portrayed in the media." AP quotes Rush as saying, "I think what really surprised me, but also endeared to him was his keen sense of humor, his sense of history and his basic human qualities." At times, Rush said, the lawmakers and Castro chatted "like old family members."

Lee says she wanted to influence President Barack Obama prior to the upcoming Summit of the Americas in Trinadad and Tobago.

Prior to the trip, Lee told her hometown Oakland Tribune newspaper that the US had to open up to Cuba, but did not demand that the Cuban government open up; she blasted US policy as "based on antiquated Cold War-era thinking." She could have used those words to describe her own views.[25]

Cuban relations Bill

Rep. Bobby Rush, D-Ill., who participated on a Congressional Black Caucus delegation to Cuba in March 2009 and met with former President Fidel Castro, introduced the US-Cuba Trade Normalization Act, which would repeal the Helms-Burton and Torricelli Acts and end the embargo against Cuba. The bill has 55 co-sponsors.[26]

Creamer connection

Bobby Rush for Congress has been a client of Robert Creamer's Strategic Consulting Group.[27]

Coalition to Save Community Banking

The Coalition to Save Community Banking is a group of several dozen metro Chicago organizations and individuals, including Chicago Democratic Socialists of America member Peg Strobel, that came together after the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) seized the assets of a local community bank, Park National Bank (PNB) with two branches in Oak Park, Illinois, on October 30, 2009. PNB and eight sister banks (including several in California) were all owned by First Bank of Oak Park, Inc. (FBOP), which the FDIC then sold to US Bancorp, also known as US Bank. This seizure happened in the afternoon; that same morning, the Treasury Department awarded FBOP/PNB Initiatives (an affiliate of PNB) $50 million in federal "New Market Tax Credit" allocations to continue PNB's long-standing investment in under-resourced and minority communities. [28]

Accomplishments of the organization included;

  • Rep. Luis Gutierrez (chair of the House Subcommittee on Financial Institutions and Consumer Credit) held a Congressional hearing January 21 on the issue of FPOB/PNB and community banks. We sent more than 60 people to Washington.
  • We gained the support of Rep. Danny Davis; Rep. Bobby Rush; State Sen. Don Harmon; David Pope, President of the Village Board, Oak Park; and State Rep. LaShawn Ford.
  • Sponsored by Sen. Don Harmon, Senate Joint Resolution 81 has passed the Illinois Senate and moves to the Illinois House, where it is cosponsored by Karen Yarbrough, Angelo Saviano, Deborah L. Graham, LaShawn Ford, and Marlow H. Colvin. The resolution "urges the United States House of Representatives Financial Services Committee and the United States Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs to continue hearings to investigate the FDIC's seizure of Park National Bank."
  • December 16, 2009, the Chicago City Council joined with our coalition in demanding a Congressional hearing to investigate the seizure and sale of First Bank of Oak Park/Park National Bank and the repercussions for other community banks reinvesting in our communities. As reported by the Chicago Sun-Times, Chicago aldermen condemned as "absurd, bordering on criminal" the federal government's decision to seize Park National Bank."
  • Within a month of the seizure, community groups that comprise the Coalition delivered petitions with over 1,000 signatures to the D.C. office of Rep. Luis Gutierrez.[29]

Committee to Stop FBI Repression delegation

In mid November 2010, a delegation from the Committee to Stop FBI Repression ( returned home from several days of bringing the "issue of the FBI raids and grand jury subpoenas of people doing international solidarity work and anti-war organizing to the U.S. Capitol". Three supporters of the Marxist-Leninist Freedom Road Socialist Organization/FightBack!, Deb Konechne of the Committee to Stop FBI Repression, Anh Pham, who is facing a reactivation of her subpoena and Joe Iosbaker, whose home was raided, spent two days meeting with U.S. Representatives on the issue. The delegation asked each Congressperson to sponsor a “Dear Colleague” letter condemning the raids and grand jury subpoenas. In the two days, the delegation met with either the Congressional Representative’s staff or the Representative themselves from the following 16 offices: Tammy Baldwin (WI), John Conyers (MI), Danny Davis (IL), Keith Ellison (MN), Raul Grijalva (AZ), Luis Gutierrez (IL), Mike Honda (CA), Jesse Jackson, Jr. (IL), Dennis Kucinich (OH), Barbara Lee (CA), Jim McDermott (WA), Jim McGovern (MA), Bobby Rush (IL), Linda Sanchez (CA), Jan Schakowsky (IL), Maxine Waters (CA). The "meetings were positive, with all the offices expressing genuine concern about the situation. In some cases, because of the outpouring of calls from around the country, the U.S. Representatives were aware that the delegation was in Washington D.C. and the offices made time on their schedules to meet with the delegation. This reinforces the continuing importance of the solidarity work taking place around the country."

Rep. Conyers (MI), chair of the Judiciary Committee, directed the Counsel of the Judiciary Committee to meet with the delegation. Also, Rep. Ellison (MN) and his Congressional staff met directly with the delegation for a significant amount of time. rep. Ellison sent a letter to U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, expressing concern over the situation and is continuing to work on options to support his constituents affected. The delegation also received face-to-face meetings with Rep Gutierrez and Rep Davis from Chicago. Rep. Grijalva’s (AZ) office set up a meeting between the delegation and the Executive Director of the Congressional Progressive Caucus in the Congress of which rep. Grijalva is the chair. In addition, the office of Jan Schakowsky (IL) and Maxine Waters (CA) gave the delegation significant time and attention.

“It was clear that progressive Representatives of the Congress are very concerned about the FBI investigation. Overall, they were very thankful for our visit and for the information and analysis given to them The level of awareness about the raids and grand jury was varied, from little to full awareness, but the delegation certainly changed that. After the two days, our presence and purpose definitely created a stir in the halls of Congress. “The fact that we were able to interact with 16 legislative aides or Congress people themselves, during an extremely busy time of restructuring leadership in the Congress, exemplifies the attention this matter is receiving”, stated Joe Iosbaker.[30]

Congressional Letter for Neutrality, 2014 Salvadoran Elections

On Monday December 16, 2014 Reps. Juan Vargas (D-CA), Mike Honda (D-CA) and Mark Pocan (D-WI) sent a letter to Sec. of State John Kerry – signed by 51 Members of Congress – calling for a public statement of neutrality by the State Department before the first round of El Salvador’s presidential elections on February 2, 2014.

The letter, , highlighted several “important steps” that the current government has taken to “strengthen its democratic system and expand the right to vote to all citizens,” including those living outside of the country, who will be voting by absentee ballot for the first time in February. Since the election of Mauricio Funes, the first President from the Marxist Farabundo Martí National Liberation Front (FMLN) party, the government has increased the number of polling places four-fold to increase accessibility, especially in rural areas.

“We’re glad to see so many Members of Congress expressing respect for the right of the Salvadoran people to determine their own future. That’s an attitude that’s sorely lacking in much of the US’ policy in Central America, especially with regard to economic policy,” said Alexis Stoumbelis, Executive Director for the pro-communist Committee in Solidarity with the People of El Salvador (CISPES), in Washington, DC, which has observed every post-war election in El Salvador, starting in 1994.

Signatories included Rep. Bobby Rush .[31].


The following have worked as staff members for Bobby Rush:[32]

External links


  1. Bobby Rush, congressional bio, accessed August 4, 2011
  2. bio, accessed August 6
  3. Bill Matney on CBS Evening News, Dec. 4, 1969
  4. Washington Post: "A Black Panther on Little Cat Feet; Bobby Rush Drops the Clenched Fist," Kevin Klose, Aug. 11, 1984
  5. [ YouTube ^ | December 5, 1969 | NBC]
  6. [People's Weekly World, Dec. 12,1998, page 9]
  11. Undated, GI Civil Liberties Defense Committee letterhead circa 1969
  12. Tribute to Golub and Montgomery: Program, Nov. 16, 1989
  13. Chicago Jewish History Spring 2010, David and Miriam Canter: Doing Right from the Left BY WALTER ROTH
  14. Marc's Voice, History of the Canter Family, June 26th, 2010
  15. [PWW, Sep. 20, 1997, page 2]
  16. PWW June 14, 1997 page 4
  17. The Job Creation and Infrastructure Restoration Act of 1997 (H.R. 950)From the New York State Communist Party 16 March 1997, email list (accessed on June 14, 2010)
  18. PWW, October 11, 1997, page 6
  19. NBC Chicago, Rev. Addie Wyatt Memorialized, By Glenn Marshall, Saturday, Apr 7, 2012
  20. Memoriam Service Program, 2000
  21. Peoples World, Chicago PWW banquet set for Oct. 20, by: Evelina Alarcon & John Pappademos October 3 2002
  22. Crossroads fund 2007 Annual Report page 33
  23. Congressional Progressive Caucus website: Caucus Member List
  24. Congressional Black Caucus: Members (accessed on Feb. 24, 2011)
  25.] Congresswoman Barbara Lee: Still stuck in the Cold War, political Warfare, Michael Waller, accessed August 20, 2010
  26. Pressure mounts to end Cuban travel ban, Peoples World, July 18, 2009
  27. SCG A Partial List of SCG Clients, accessed Dec. 2, 2013
  28. New Ground 129, May/June 2010
  29. New Ground 129, May/June 2010
  30. Report on Congressional Delegation From the Committee to Stop FBI Repression, U.S. Peace Council website, posted Nov. 20, 2010
  31. CISPES press release, Press Statement: 51 Members of Congress Call for US Neutrality in Salvadoran Elections December 16, 2013
  32. Legistorm: Bobby Rush (accessed on Aug. 24, 2011)