Byron Rushing

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Byron Rushing
Portrait of Byron Rushing, circa 1980s
Rushing in 2015
Assistant Majority Leader[1] of the Massachusetts House of Representatives
In office
December 6, 2011 – January 2, 2019
Preceded byCharles Murphy
Succeeded byJoseph Wagner
Second Division Chair of the Massachusetts House of Representatives
In office
January 28, 2011 – December 6, 2011
Preceded byKathi-Anne Reinstein
Third Division Chair of the Massachusetts House of Representatives
In office
February 12, 2009 – January 28, 2011
Second Assistant Majority Leader of the Massachusetts House of Representatives
In office
February 7, 2005 – 2009?
Member of the Massachusetts House of Representatives
from the 9th Suffolk district
In office
January 2, 1983 – January 2, 2019
Preceded byMel King
Succeeded byJon Santiago
Personal details
Born (1942-07-29) July 29, 1942 (age 78)
New York City
Political partyDemocratic
ResidenceSouth End, Boston
EducationSyracuse Central High School
Alma materHarvard College
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
OccupationEducator, politician

Byron Rushing represented the Ninth Suffolk district in the Massachusetts House of Representatives from 1983 to 2019.[1] He represented the South End neighborhood of Boston. A Democrat,[1] he was first elected in 1982,[2] before losing his 2018 bid for reelection to Jon Santiago in the Democratic primary.[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.[4] 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.[5] Rushing initially moved to Boston in 1960 to attend university, but dropped out in his junior year.[4] He returned to Boston to work for the Northern Student Movement.[6] He has lived in Boston since 1964.[2]

He attended Harvard College and MIT.[1] Rushing possesses an honorary doctorate from the Episcopal Divinity School where he serves as an adjunct professor.[7]


During the 1960s, Rushing 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.[2] Rushing was also the president of the Roxbury Historical Society.[8] In 1969, Rushing worked for the Center for Inner City Change in Boston.[4] He became the director of the Urban Change program at the Urban League in 1969.[6]

Rushing in the 1980s

From 1972 to 1985, he was President of the Museum of African American History in Boston.[9] 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.[2] Rushing wants Massachusetts state pension funds to help improve underdeveloped areas in the state.[10]

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.[2] He is a spokesman against the restoration of the death penalty in Massachusetts and for a moratorium on executions in the nation.[2] He leads the effort for size acceptance and anti-discrimination on the basis of height and weight.[2] He led the Commonwealth's anti-apartheid efforts[2] and was the co-author, with Simon Billenness,[11] and chief sponsor of the Massachusetts Burma law[12] that was struck down by the U.S. Supreme Court in 2000.[13] He was the chief sponsor of the health reform law ending pre-existing condition refusals by insurance companies.[2] He is a chief sponsor of legislation for needle exchange programs and over-the-counter sale of sterile needles.[2] Rushing advocated for hospitals to establish a set of guidelines to treat victims of violence. [14] He was a sponsor of establishing a rule to provide "treatment on demand" for substance abuse. [15] Rushing acts as a co-chair for the Massachusetts Health Disparities Council. [15] Before his defeat in the 2018 Massachusetts House election, Rushing had also been a consistent opponent of primary seat belt laws in the Bay State, citing racial profiling concerns that such laws would be over-applied to minority drivers in Massachusetts - this issue has once again manifested itself, as part of a "hands-free cellphone" state-level law proposed by MA Governor Charlie Baker in January 2019.[16]

Byron Rushing was running for re-election for State Representative in the democratic primary scheduled for September 4, 2018 against two democratic challengers. [17] He ran on his progressive record of accomplishment as well as unfinished work regarding gun safety, immigration, criminal justice reform, affordable housing, civil rights, health care treatment, treatment of drug addiction as a health issue not a crime, and neighborhood quality of life issues. [18] He lost to Progressive primary challenger, Jon Santiago on September 4th.

Personal life[edit]

Byron Rushing is married to Freida Garcia and they both live on Concord Square in the South End in Boston, Massachusetts. [6] 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 [19] and was elected Vice-President of the House of Deputies in 2012. Rushing was appointed to the Boston Public Library Board of Trustees in 2010 by Mayor Thomas Menino to help resolve the budget crisis.[20] He is a Second Division Chair at the House Leadership and a member of the Rules Committee.[20]

Rushing has given talks on gentrification, the BRA, and suburbanization as a part of a series on structural racism in Boston, Massachusetts. [21] He was an essential figure alongside Deval Patrick in convincing the black religious community that marriage is a civil right.[22] In 2018, he spoke at The Human Rights Commission at the annual Martin Luther King Jr. Breakfast. [14]


Rushing and his wife, Garcia, were presented with the Harriet Tubman Community Achievement Award in 2012.[23] In 2014, Rushing was awarded the HistoryMaker Award by The History Project.[24]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c "Member Profile: Byron Rushing". Massachusetts Legislature Home Page; Commonwealth of Massachusetts. Retrieved October 22, 2014.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j "About Representative Byron Rushing". The Official Website of the Health Disparities Council. Commonwealth of Massachusetts. Retrieved May 30, 2010.
  3. ^ "PD43+ » Search Elections".
  4. ^ a b c Turner, Diane. "Transcription: Byron Rushing Interview with Diane Turner". Northeastern University Respository. Northeastern University. Retrieved April 6, 2017.
  5. ^ "The Honorable Byron Rushing". History Makers. The HistoryMakers. Retrieved April 6, 2017.
  6. ^ a b c Shannon, Hope (2014). Legendary Locals of Boston's South End. Charleston, SC: Arcadia Publishing. p. 31. ISBN 978-1-4671-0112-7.
  7. ^ Jennings, Gay Clark. "Byron Rushing". House of Deputies of the Episcopal Church. The General Convention of The Episcopal Church. Archived from the original on April 7, 2017. Retrieved April 6, 2017.
  8. ^ Miller, Yawu (2014). "Roxbury's boundaries buried in town history". The Boston Banner. ProQuest 1504068612.
  9. ^ "Documenting African American History". Digital Commonwealth. WGBH Open Vault. Retrieved April 6, 2017.
  10. ^ "State Rep. Byron Rushing, will talk about "My Life and Debt in the Massachusetts State House," Tuesday, March 27 at 6:30 PM, with an introduction by State Rep. Aaron Michlewitz". FOSEL: Friends of the South End Library. Retrieved February 15, 2018.
  11. ^ Goldberg, Carey (June 24, 2000). "After Defeat, Campaigner for 'Free Burma' Begins Anew". The New York Times. Retrieved April 6, 2017.
  12. ^ Maharaj, Davan (November 6, 1998). "Massachusetts' 'Burma Law' Struck Down". Los Angeles Times. ISSN 0458-3035. Retrieved October 22, 2014.
  13. ^ "Crosby v. National Foreign Trade Council, U.S. Supreme Court Case Summary & Oral Argument". Retrieved May 30, 2010.
  14. ^ a b Lefferts, Jennifer (2018). "Belmont to host annual Martin Luther King, Jr., Breakfast". The Boston Globe. ProQuest 1986196453.
  15. ^ a b "About Representative Byron Rushing". Health Disparities Council. August 1, 2012. Retrieved February 15, 2018.
  16. ^ Murphy, Matt (January 22, 2019). "Gov. Baker proposes hands-free cellphone driving law". WCVB. Retrieved January 23, 2019. The governor on Tuesday proposed his most sweeping set of road safety rules yet, calling for Massachusetts to join 16 other states in requiring hands-free cellphone use while driving and proposing to allow police to stop motorists for not wearing a seat belt...The Senate passed a hands-free bill that petered out in the House, despite that branch's most vocal opponent, Byron Rushing, coming around to endorse a Senate amendment that alleviated some of his concerns with racial profiling...Rushing, who was a senior member House Speaker Robert DeLeo's leadership team, is no longer in the House after losing re-election in November, and it remains to be seen who, if anyone, will pick up where he left off on the issue.
  17. ^ "Byron Rushing Campaign website". Archived from the original on July 29, 2018. Retrieved July 29, 2018.
  18. ^ "Byron Rushing Campaign Issues Page". Archived from the original on July 29, 2018. Retrieved July 29, 2018.
  19. ^ "Leadership Gallery". The Church Awakens: African-Americans and the Struggle for Justice. The Archives of the Episcopal Church. Retrieved October 22, 2014.
  21. ^ Pattison-Gordon, Jule (2016). "How urban renewal shaped Boston Look at the past as city plans for future". The Boston Banner. ProQuest 1780765319.
  22. ^ Gibbs, David (2011). "Marriage Equality: Byron Rushing and the Fight for Fairness". Library Journals, LLC – via Academic OneFile.
  23. ^ "Rushing, Garcia, Ford feted for service to community". Retrieved February 16, 2018.
  24. ^ "Representative Byron Rushing to receive 2014 HistoryMaker Award". The History Project. 2014. Retrieved February 14, 2018.


1.^ Sometimes erroneously referred to as Majority Whip.

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