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#TheUnknownHustle: Barack Obama

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September 21, 2018

It was March 2000, and Barack Obama was a young General Assembly member in Illinois ready to make his bid for the big leagues: U.S. Congress. He was going to fail.

 

Obama was up against four-term incumbent Rep. Bobby Rush, a trusted former Baptist minister who had helped open the Illinois branch of the Black Panthers. A year before the two went head-to-head, Rush unsuccessfully ran for mayor, leading many to think he was leaving Congress behind.

 

In the lead-up to the Democratic primary, Rush sought to discredit Obama’s links to the black community. Obama's door-to-door campaigning efforts were muted by the death of Rush’s 29-year-old son, murdered on Chicago’s South Side.

 

Obama later agreed he had “my rear end handed to me.” (In fact, he was defeated more than two to one.) The rising political star never gave up, however, and four years later successfully ran for Senate.