b. November 23, 1946
U.S. Congress, 2nd District (1992-)
Chicago, 2nd Ward Alderman (1983-1993)
Chicago, 2nd Ward Democratic Committeeman (1984-2008)
Although a relatively staid septuagenarian today, for decades Bobby Rush was the model of an activist politician, fighting to defeat the South Side Black Machine then becoming one of Mayor Harold Washington's strongest supporters on City Council. While he was raised on Chicago's South Side and served in the United States Army from 1963 to 1968 (when he went AWOL), the most important early milestone for Rush was when he co-founded of the Illinois chapter of the Black Panther Party in 1968.
While the Black Panthers did not last long, Rush's activism continued, as he became an organizer and advocate in The Gap, an impoverished Black neighborhood between Bronzeville and the South Loop. Rush repeatedly ran against Black Machine leader William Barnett in the old 2nd Ward, ultimately defeating him in 1983, riding the massive Black voter turnout of the Harold Washington campaign.
As Congressman, Rush quickly obtained a seat on the powerful House Energy and Commerce Committee, chairing a subcommittee for time while Democrats controlled the chamber. That perch gave Rush considerable fundraising ability, and in 1999 he ran an ill-managed campaign against Mayor Richard M. Daley that failed to attract much more than the disaffected Black vote.
Since the early 2000's Rush has suffered a series of illnesses, the nature of which have not been disclosed, but have clearly affected his speech and vigor.
He is also the pastor of a church he founded in Englewood, Beloved Community Christian Church.
- 1973, Roosevelt University, B.A., General Studies
- 1994, University of Illinois-Chicago, M.A., Political Science
- 1998, McCormick Theological Seminary, M.A.
Important Political Events
- 1975, Defeated for 2nd Ward Alderman by William Barnett
- 1978, Defeated for State Representative
- 1983, Elected 2nd Ward Alderman defeating William Barnett in a runoff
- 1984, Elected 2nd Ward Democratic Committeeman defeating William Barnett
- 1987, Relected 2nd Ward Alderman defeating William Barnett
- 1992, Elected to U.S. Congress, 1st Congressional District, defeating Charles Hayes
- 1992, Reelected 2nd Ward Democratic Committeeman defeating William Barnett
- 1999, Defeated for Chicago Mayor by Richard M. Daley
- 2000, Reelected to U.S. Congress, 1st Congressional District, defeating Barack Obama and Donne Trotter
- 2008, Retired as 2nd Ward Democratic Committeeman, replaced by Robert Fioretti
Chicago Politics Ward by Ward, David K. Fremon