By: Trevor Loudon
Byron Rushing has served as a pro-Socialist member of the Massachusetts State Legislature since 1982, representing the South End, the Fenway and Lower Roxbury neighborhoods of Boston. He 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. He is a spokesman against the restoration of the death penalty in Massachusetts and for a moratorium on executions in the nation. He was the chief sponsor of the health reform law ending pre-existing condition refusals by insurance companies. He is an elected deputy to the General Convention of The Episcopal Church, sitting on various boards – notably, the Episcopal Network for Economic Justice.
Rushing’s career as a socialist activist began early in his life. Born in 1942 and spending his early years in New York City, Rushing’s family moved to Syracuse at which time he began high school. Throughout his high school years, he attended a youth summer camp under the direction of the Universalist Unitarian Church. The camp taught world peace and cultural understanding by bringing various racial, ethnic, cultural and religious groups together. After graduating high school. Members of the Quaker church whom he met at his summer youth camp, invited him to participate in another youth summer program operated by the American Friends Service Committee. At the end of his junior year, Rushing decided to postpone his studies and fully dedicate his efforts to the Civil Rights Movement. He returned to Syracuse to work with the local chapter of the Congress of Racial Equality tackling issues of employment integration and police brutality.
Rushing also has a long-standing connection with the U.S.A.’s largest Socialist organization, Democratic Socialists of America. In 1995, Rushing and Carin Schiewe, the director of the Commonwealth Coalition, were the honorees at Boston Democratic Socialists of America’s annual Debs-Thomas-Bernstein Dinner. In 2001 he, Judith Deutsch and Revs. Alexander Hurt, Eugene Rivers & Norm Faramelli, spoke on a Faith-based Initiatives forum hosted by Boston DSA. In 2002, Rushing was a patron of the 25th Annual Debs–Thomas–Bernstein Awards, honoring State Representatives Pat Jehlen and Anne Paulsen.