|Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Illinois's 7th district
June 5, 1973 – January 3, 1997
|Preceded by||George Collins|
|Succeeded by||Danny Davis|
|Born||Cardiss Hortense Robertson
September 24, 1931
St. Louis, Missouri, U.S.
|Died||February 3, 2013
Arlington, Virginia, U.S.
|Spouse(s)||George Collins (1958–1972)|
|Alma mater||Northwestern University|
Cardiss Hortense Collins, (née Robertson; September 24, 1931 – February 3, 2013), was a Democratic politician from Illinois who served in the United States House of Representatives from 1973 to 1997. She was the first African-American woman to represent the Midwest in Congress. Collins was elected to Congress in the June 5, 1973 special election to replace her husband, George, who had died in the December 8, 1972 United Airlines Flight 553 plane crash. The seat had been renumbered from the 6th district to the 7th when she took the seat. She had previously worked as an accountant in various state government positions.
Throughout her political career, she was a champion for women’s health and welfare issues. In 1975, she was instrumental in prompting the Social Security Administration to revise Medicare regulations to cover the cost of post-mastectomy breast prosthesis, which before then had been considered cosmetic. In 1979, she was elected as president of the Congressional Black Caucus, a position she used to become an occasional critic of President Jimmy Carter. She later became the caucus vice chairman. In the 1980s, Collins warded off two primary challenges from Alderman Danny K. Davis, who would finally be elected to replace her in 1996. In 1990, Collins, along with 15 other African-American women and men, formed the African-American Women for Reproductive Freedom. In 1991, Collins was named chair of the Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations. Her legislative interests were focused on establishing universal health insurance, providing for gender equity in college sports, and reforming federal child care facilities. Collins gained a brief national prominence in 1993 as the chairwoman of a congressional committee investigating college sports and as a critic of the NCAA. During her last term (1995–1997), she served as ranking member of the Government Reform and Oversight Committee. She also engaged in an intense debate with Rep. Henry Hyde over Medicaid funding of abortion that year.
Retirement, death and honors
Collins did not seek re-election in 1996, citing her age and the Republican majority in the House. In 2004, she was selected by Nielsen Media Research to head a task force examining the representation of African Americans in TV rating samples. Collins lived in Alexandria, Virginia until her death on February 3, 2013, at the age of 81. The United States Postal Service's Cardiss Collins Processing and Distribution Center, located at 433 W. Harrison St. in Chicago, Illinois, is named in her honor and was completed in 1996 to replace the old Main Post Office across the street on Van Buren Street.
- "Women in Government: A Slim Past, But a Strong Future". Ebony: 89–92, 96–98. August 1977.
- Kathryn Cullen-DuPont (1 August 2000). Encyclopedia of women's history in America. Infobase Publishing. p. 6. ISBN 978-0-8160-4100-8. Retrieved 4 February 2012.
- http://www.rollcall.com/news/cardiss_collins_first_african_american_woman_to_represent_illinois_dies_at-222164-1.html?pos=hbtxt, additional text.
- Yardley, William. "Cardiss Collins, Fighter in Congress for Equality and the Poor, Dies at 81". nytimes.com. Retrieved 9 February 2013.
- Cardiss Collins Processing and Distribution Center
- Congressional Biography
- University of Maryland. Women's Studies Database. Government and Politics. Women in Congress biography.
- "Nielsen Appoints Prominent Community and Industry Leaders to Independent Task Force on TV Measurement." Nielsen Media Research. 06/08/04.
- Michael Arndt. "3 Chicago Congressmen Persevere." Chicago Tribune. 19 March 1986. p. 1.
- Ed Sherman. "Collins Grabs Baton as Congress' NCAA Nemesis." Chicago Tribune. 15 January 1993. p. 2.
- Jacqueline Trescott. "The Coming Out of Cardiss Collins." Washington Post. 21 September 1979. p. C1.
- Biography at the Biographical Directory of the United States Congress
- Financial information (federal office) at the Federal Election Commission
- Cardiss Collins' oral history video excerpts at The National Visionary Leadership Project
|United States House of Representatives|
|Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Illinois's 7th congressional district
|Chairperson of the Congressional Black Caucus