Refocus Not Retirement for Congressman Bobby Rush (Chicago, IL) – Calling it returning to his roots and not a retirement, Bobby Rush stood behind a podium talking about his more than five decades of fighting for injustice. He announced he would not be seeing his 16th term in Washington D.C. Speaking to family, friends and media at a press conference at Roberts Temple Church of God in Christ, the location of the 1955 funeral of 14-year-old Emmett Till, was a symbolic gesture for a man who has pushed for an anti-lynching bill and measures to protect people throughout his life.
“I am not retiring,” said Rush, who turned 75 in November. “I have a philosophy that you can always be a public servant, but you can’t own a public office,” said Rush. “I have a higher calling and I am answering that higher calling to continue my mission in life from a different perspective. There is not a rocking chair that can contain me.”
Born in Albany, Georgia, on Nov. 23, 1946. Rush’s family moved to Chicago when he was young. He became a transcendent and influential American leader who kept his legislative and policy interests focused on the needs of his constituents in the 1st Congressional District of Illinois. He emphasized legislation on the most vulnerable and the communities that have been left behind. Believing deeply in the redemptive power of the human spirit and in human ingenuity and tenacity, he first took office in 1993 .
An ordained minister, Rush is the pastor of the Beloved Community Christian Church of God in Christ, earning a master’s degree in theology in 1998 from the McCormick Theological Seminary. He plans to continue to be more involved in his church.
“I will remain a public servant fighting for justice within the community. I am not going to be someone who is going to cut and run. I have made a career running toward a fight not running away from it,” Rush added. “If you think I am running you are as wrong as two left shoes.”
A civil rights activist during the 1960s, Rush co-founded the Illinois chapter of the Black Panther Party. He was first elected to Congress in 1992 and is still the only person to beat former President Barack Obama in an election.
“Giving this press conference in the space where Emitt Till’s funeral took place and forever changed the world with the courage from his mother to have an open casket will never be forgotten,” said Rush. “We all understand the importance of family and I just want to thank my family for always being on my side.”
In 2008, Rush had a rare type of malignant tumor removed from his salivary gland. He said he was not offended when people called him Congressman Mumbles because his speech pattern and vocal chords had been altered due to the treatment. “Being a cancer survivor has reinforced my resolve in so many ways. I understand what my purpose is,” said Rush. “And I would rather be made fun of because of the way I speak than have the alternative of not being a cancer survivor. People have always underestimated me and they have been wrong.”
Rush has introduced the anitlynching bill several times and it which designate lynching as federal crime, several times The bill has been approved by the House Judiciary Committee this Congress, but has not been taken up by the full House or Senate.
“We stand in this building where the funeral of Emmit Till took place. Because of this hero and the heroic actions of his mother and men like Congressman Bobby Rush, he has led the way to justice, equality and freedom,” said Bishop Edwin Walker from Roberts Temple Church of God in Christ. “Thank you for being a shining example for my generation and the generations to come. Thank you for fighting for fairness and equality for all people and making African American men of Chicago and around the globe proud of who they are.”
Refocus Not Retirement for Congressman Bobby Rush