Birthdate: Nov. 23, 1946
Birth Place: Albany, GA, United States
Residence: Chicago, IL
First Elected: 1992
District: District 1
Bobby L. Rush was born in Albany, Ga., and grew up in Chicago, where he still lives.
He volunteered for the U.S. Army from 1963 to 1968, joining the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee in 1966, while stationed in Chicago. He went AWOL in 1968, co-founded the state's Black Panther Party and later was honorably discharged.
Rush earned a bachelor's at Roosevelt University in 1973, a master's in political science at the University of Illinois-Chicago in 1994, and a master's at McCormick Theological Seminary in 1998. Soon after, he became an ordained Baptist minister and now serves as a pastor of the Beloved Community Christian Church.
Rush was elected Chicago city alderman in 1983. He was first elected to the U.S. House in 1992. In 1999, he lost a bid for Chicago mayor, taking 28 percent of the vote.
Rush and his wife, Carolyn, have five children.
Bobby L. Rush's political evolution could be the most dramatic in the U.S. House.
The onetime Black Panther and activist now finds himself a Washington insider working not just with his fellow Democrats but also with conservative Republicans.
Still, Rush hasn't shied from liberal positions and direct action.
In 2012, he wore a hooded sweatshirt onto the House floor, and was ejected because of it, amid a national debate over the shooting death of a black Florida teenager who was wearing a so-called hoodie at the time of his shooting. Another time he blocked Sudan's embassy driveway to protest what he calls genocide.
Rush played a role in the controversy in early 2009 over who should replace President Barack Obama in the Senate after Obama was elected president. Then-Gov. Rod Blagojevich was charged by federal prosecutors with trying to benefit from his power to pick the replacement. Despite the charges, Blagojevich went forward with the appointment of former Attorney General Roland Burris, an African-American. Rush appeared with the two men and suggested opposing Burris would be an act of racism.
In his youth, Rush volunteered for the Army but went AWOL in 1968 and co-founded the Illinois Black Panthers following the assassination of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.
Rush ran a medical clinic that developed the nation's first mass sickle cell anemia testing program. He also served six months in prison for illegal possession of firearms.
Rush decided he could accomplish more from within the establishment and became an alderman in 1983. After his 1992 election to the U.S. House, he made an effort to develop relationships that could prove helpful with his agenda.
"In moments like this, I wish we had more black Republicans who were in a position where they sort of would be able to further the agenda of the African-Americans in the Republican Party," he said in a 2005 interview with The Associated Press.
Rush is not blindly loyal to fellow black politicians. In 2004, he backed white millionaire Blair Hull in the Democratic primary over then-state Sen. Obama.
Rush will always have the distinction as the guy who handed Obama his first loss in a 2000 congressional primary, portraying the Harvard-educated Obama as an "educated fool."
Rush chairs the Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Commerce, Trade and Consumer Protection. He also boasts that he has brought nearly $2 billion in federal funding back to his district since being elected. He battled cancer through much of 2008, keeping him away from work for long periods.
Rush voted for the 2010 health care reform bill, calling it "a giant step forward in righting the wrongs in the U.S. health care system." He has also introduced consumer protection legislation aimed at the funeral services industry after workers at a suburban Chicago cemetery were accused of digging up remains and stacking bodies in a moneymaking scheme.
Source: Associated Press