Byron Rushing

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Byron Rushing
1980s Byron Rushing of Boston USA 9504750450.jpg
Portrait of Byron Rushing, circa 1980s
Member of the Massachusetts House of Representatives from the Ninth Suffolk district
Assumed office
Personal details
Born (1942-07-29) July 29, 1942 (age 75)
New York City
Political party Democratic
Residence Boston, Massachusetts
Alma mater Harvard College
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Occupation Educator, politician

Byron Rushing serves the Ninth Suffolk district in the Massachusetts House of Representatives [2] representing the South End neighborhood of Boston. A Democrat,[2] first elected in 1982 ,[3] Representative Rushing, serves as the Majority Whip.[4] Representative Rushing's priorities are human and civil rights and liberties; local human, economic and housing development; environmental justice and health care.[3]

Early life and education[edit]

Rushing was born July 29, 1942 in New York City to William Rushing, a janitor, and Linda Turpin, a Jamaican native, who migrated to New York to work as a seamstress. Rushing has two older brothers, Lawrence and William.[5] Rushing moved with his family to Syracuse, New York where he attended Madison Junior High and then Syracuse Central High School, where he graduated in 1960.[6] He has lived in Boston since 1964.[3]

He attended Harvard College and MIT.[2] Rushing possesses an honorary doctorate from the Episcopal Divinity School where Rushing serves as an adjunct professor.[7]


During the 1960s he was active in the civil rights movement, working for the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE) in Syracuse, New York, and was a community organizer for the Northern Student Movement in Boston. He directed Roxbury Associates which helped to found the Lower Roxbury Community Corporation, one of the first CDCs in the nation, and which began some of the earliest organizing in a black community against the war in Vietnam.[3]

From 1972 to 1985, he was President of the Museum of African American History in Boston.[8] Under his direction, the museum purchased and began the restoration of the African Meeting House, the oldest extant black church building in the United States. In 1979, Byron oversaw the lobbying effort in Congress to establish the Boston African American National Historical Site, a component of the National Park Service. Byron led the museum in the study of the history of Roxbury; the museum conducted the archaeological investigation of the Southwest Corridor for the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA). Byron stays involved in this work: as a legislator he sponsored the creation of Roxbury Heritage State Park and occasionally leads walking tours of African American and working-class neighborhoods in Boston and Roxbury.[3]

Representative Rushing was an original sponsor of the gay rights bill and the chief sponsor of the law to end discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation in public schools.[3] He is a spokesman against the restoration of the death penalty in Massachusetts and for a moratorium on executions in the nation.[3] He leads the effort for size acceptance and anti-discrimination on the basis of height and weight.[3] He led the Commonwealth's anti-apartheid efforts[3] and was the co-author, with Simon Billenness,[9] and chief sponsor of the Massachusetts Burma law[10] that was struck down by the U.S. Supreme Court in 2000.[11] He was the chief sponsor of the health reform law ending pre-existing condition refusals by insurance companies.[3] He is a chief sponsor of legislation for needle exchange programs and over-the-counter sale of sterile needles.[3]

Personal life[edit]

Rushing is an active Episcopalian layman and a member of St. John's, St. James' Church in Roxbury, Massachusetts. He has been an elected lay deputy to the General Convention since 1973 [1] and was elected Vice-President of the House of Deputies in 2012.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "Leadership Gallery". The Church Awakens: African-Americans and the Struggle for Justice. The Archives of the Episcopal Church. Retrieved 2014-10-22. 
  2. ^ a b c "Member Profile: Byron Rushing". Massachusetts Legislature Home Page. Commonwealth of Massachusetts. Retrieved 2014-10-22. 
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k "About Representative Byron Rushing". The Official Website of the Health Disparities Council. Commonwealth of Massachusetts. Retrieved 2010-05-30. 
  4. ^ "Legislative Leadership". Massachusetts Legislature Home Page. Commonwealth of Massachusetts. Retrieved 2014-10-22. 
  5. ^ Turner, Diane. "Transcription: Byron Rushing Interview with Diane Turner". Northeastern University Respository. Northeastern University. Retrieved 6 April 2017. 
  6. ^ "The Honorable Byron Rushing". History Makers. The HistoryMakers. Retrieved 6 April 2017. 
  7. ^ Jennings, Gay Clark. "Byron Rushing". House of Deputies of the Episcopal Church. The General Convention of The Episcopal Church. Retrieved 6 April 2017. 
  8. ^ "Documenting African American History". Digital Commonwealth. WGBH Open Vault. Retrieved 6 April 2017. 
  9. ^ Goldberg, Carey (24 June 2000). "After Defeat, Campaigner for 'Free Burma' Begins Anew". The New York Times. Retrieved 6 April 2017. 
  10. ^ Maharaj, Davan (1998-11-06). "Massachusetts' 'Burma Law' Struck Down". Los Angeles Times. ISSN 0458-3035. Retrieved 2014-10-22. 
  11. ^ "Crosby v. National Foreign Trade Council, U.S. Supreme Court Case Summary & Oral Argument". Retrieved 2010-05-30.