A violence-prevention advocate who also consulted for the Obama Foundation hopes to unseat U.S. Rep. Bobby Rush in the 1st Congressional District.
Robert Emmons Jr. says he’ll run in a Democratic primary against Rush to call attention to gun violence, incarceration rates and college persistence gaps. “When you break down the data, they disproportionately affect black men younger than 34. But when you look at the makeup of government officials, no one fits that demographic,” he told POLITICO.
Emmons wants to build “multi-generational coalitions,” which he says don’t exist in the district. The 26-year-old says he’s tried for years — going back to when he was a student at Perspectives charter high school — to meet with Rush to discuss his concerns but found the congressman inaccessible.
Emmons grew up in the Auburn Gresham neighborhood and now lives in Hyde Park with his wife, Brittani. He earned a political science degree from University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. At the Obama Foundation, he was a peer adviser in the Community Leadership Corps program. He previously co-founded UniTeach, which teaches civic engagement to 8th graders. Most recently, he worked at OneGoal Chicago, which mentors young people in high school and through their first year of college.
Rush, an activist and 26-year congressman, made headlines during the mayor’s race. He initially endorsed pro-business candidate Bill Daley then switched to Toni Preckwinkle for the runoff. Rush alleged those who backed Lori Lightfoot would have “blood of the next young black man or black woman” killed by the police on their hands.
Emmons called the comments divisive. “It jeopardizes the community. He doesn’t give respect to the activists who put their lives on the line.”