By Chinta Strausberg
With legendary Representative Bobby Rush poised to announce his retirement and that he may endorse his preferred candidate, Illinois Senator Jacqueline Y. Collins (D-16th), late Monday night (January 3) said she will throw her hat into what is becoming a crowded field of candidates seeking to replace the iconic congressman.
In-office for 20 years, Collins, who was elected in 2002 and took office in 2003, told the Chicago Crusader, “I will pursue the prospects of running. I want to see what the political landscape looks like in this very extremely crowded field. I will put my name in the hopper and give it serious consideration.”
Collins said it is important for her to run for Rush’s seat, “because my legislative agenda and accomplishments indicate that I have stood for working families, for children, for women and girls in the commitment and the philosophy of Dr. King.”
Citing her campaign mantra, Collins said, “I believe in three meals a day for the body, education and culture for their minds and dignity and quantity of freedom for their spirits.” She said that has been a part of all the legislation she has introduced and passed.
“I have been an avid supporter and advocate for homeownership and closing the wealth gap between white and Black ownership, of taking on all predatory lenders and taking on the bank interests,” Collins told the Chicago Crusader. “I’ve kept people in their homes who were facing foreclosure, as chair of the Senate Financial Institutions Committee.”
Collins will receive an award in March for her recent legislation that put in place the state’s Community Reinvestment Act (CRA) that holds lenders and credit unions accountable for servicing communities that have lacked assess to homeownership. That award is named after Austin community activist Gail Cincotta, who died August 15, 2001, and for Collins’ predatory lending prevention act that the senator labeled as “major.”
Collins also said she put in place historic legislation capping all title loans, auto loans, and payday loans at 36 percent “which is historic.”
Next year Collins will participate in the groundbreaking ceremony of a $30 million Metra station in the Auburn Gresham community. “I’ve worked on that for the past 10 years, to bring that to the community, to make sure people had access to the jobs.”
She is also sponsoring legislation dealing with “ghost guns” that are untraceable, guns for which she says, “that you can actually buy parts over the Internet. There is no way to trace them because you use parts from different manufacturers. You can build your own gun.”
Other legislation Collins has sponsored include SB 2136, expungement of felony prostitution charges, and SB 2137, a bill that requires virtual visitation options for those at long-term care facilities, in addition to existing in-person visitation policies.
HB 588 and SB 1599, which create a Human Trafficking Task Force to investigate the disparity in the investigation of missing Black women and girls and the lack of resolution for their families, and SB 1600, which requires truck stops and restaurants to train staff to recognize the signs of human trafficking in public places and restrooms are additional pieces of legislation Collins has sponsored.
Collins pushed for the aforementioned $30 million Auburn Park Station at 79th Street in the Auburn Gresham community that will run on Metra’s Rock Island line and includes a parking lot.
Collins and others interested in replacing the iconic Rush, including Senator Robert Peters (D-13th), will have an uphill battle given the congressman’s 30 years in office and his historic past history both health-wise, activism and politics.
Last month, Rush, 75, who is fully vaccinated, confirmed he had tested positive with a breakthrough case of COVID-19, having already received a booster shot. He overcame cancer that left his speech impaired. The former Black Panther fought back and once again prevailed.
First elected to Congress in 1992, Rush is the only elected official to have defeated former President Barack Obama in the 2000 Democratic primary 1st Congressional District.
Rush faced other personal challenges in his life when his wife of 36 years, Carolyn, 68, who had been ill for a while, died of congestive heart failure in March 2017. Rush lost his son Huey in 1999, to gun violence.
But the greatest challenge Rush faced was his successful escape from death by the December 4, 1969, Chicago police raid against the Black Panther apartment, 2337 W. Monroe St., led by Cook County State’s Attorney Edward Hanrahan. Rush was then the co-founder of the Illinois Black Panther Party.
While more than a dozen police officers sprayed the West Side apartment with numerous bullets, killing 21-year-old Fred Hampton and 22-year-old Mark Clark as they slept, Rush was not there. Learning he too was a target, Rush went into hiding in various places and ultimately turned himself into Reverend Jesse Jackson, who reportedly told the police there had better not be a scratch on Rush’s body while he was in police custody. Rush has repeatedly thanked Jackson for saving his life.
In July 2018, Rush, who is the pastor of the Beloved Community Christian Church of God in Christ, married Reverend Paulette Holloway, who is also an author.
Rush announced his retirement on Tuesday, January 4, 2022, at the historic Roberts Temple Church of God, 4021 S. State St., where the open casket funeral of 14-year-old Emmett Till was held in September of 1955.
The funeral of Till, a Chicagoan, who was kidnaped from his uncle’s home in Money, Mississippi, by two white men who claimed the teen had whistled at 21-year-old store clerk Carolyn Bryant, gained worldwide attention after his mother, Mamie Till, decided to hold an open casket funeral “so the world could see the ugly face of racism.”
Bryant, whose husband, Roy, along with J.W. Milam, beat Till, mutilated his body and shot him in the head before putting a heavy cotton gin fan around his neck. They threw his body in the Tallahatchie River.
At the funeral, lines of people filed by the teen’s casket to view his dead face. His death awakened a strong Civil Rights Movement that ultimately led to the 1955 Montgomery bus boycott and the passing of the Civil Rights Act of 1965.