Raymond Rushing grew up in a small town in Oklahoma with big dreams of changing the world. That natural desire was encouraged by his political activist grandmother, who often told a young Rushing, “If you want to change things in this country, you have to do it through the law.”
As he pursued law, he kept those words close and today, they still ring true as he serves as corporate counsel of litigation at Cummins Inc. Rushing manages global litigation matters, international contracts, product cases, the bankruptcy docket, and also leverages his legal expertise to advocate for others inside and outside the company.
“When I grew up, we were very, very poor. My mother worked four jobs until I was in sixth grade, and we lived in subsidized housing until high school,” he remembers. “I know how hard it is for someone to be at the bottom. Helping companies thrive so their employees can provide for their families, make great products, and have better lives drives me.”
At the company, Rushing supports the Cummins Advocating for Racial Equality (CARE) initiative, an effort to undo systemic discrimination through police, social justice, and criminal justice reform and to create economic empowerment for communities of color. By November 2022, CARE had impacted 420 Black-owned businesses, influenced 8 laws, and participated in 32 advocacy efforts. Rushing, who worked on police reform in Memphis, Tennessee, says the initiative adds to Cummins’ long history of advocating for racial equity, an endeavor he’s proud to be part of.
“CARE is a pillar we’re using to combat racism as a company. We have resources a lot of people don’t have, so we have a responsibility to make sure the world is better than when we came in it,” he explains.
Rushing felt the sense of responsibility to make the world better long before he came to Cummins. As an undergraduate student, he had read about the Great Migration, inspired by the influential Black figures who made their way from the south to Chicago in search of more opportunity. After graduating with his bachelor’s degree in African American studies and a master’s degree in human relations, he decided to follow in their footsteps and head to Chicago where he attended the John Marshall Law School (now University of Illinois Chicago School of Law).
From there, he developed a strong legal foundation and knack for building relationships as a judicial extern and federal judicial law clerk. In 2016, he joined Foley & Mansfield PLLP for his first full-time role before spending the rest of his private practice career at Faegre Baker Daniels LLP (now Faegre Drinker Biddle & Reath LLP) and Riley Safer Holmes & Cancila LLP. While in private practice in 2021, Rushing earned the recognition of “40 Under 40” from the Chicago Daily Law Bulletin and the Chicago Lawyer Magazine.
Each of those experiences prepared him to go in-house. “You need to feel comfortable knowing how to direct traffic and find answers if you don’t have them,” Rushing says. “I also learned to be a master negotiator, to not sweat the small things, and to be a good person because it goes a long way.”
Outside of work, Rushing is proud to be the first openly gay president of the Cook County Bar Association, the oldest association of African American Lawyers and judges in the country. In that role he passionately works to prepare the organization and its members for the future. “The future is us” is the mantra for Rushing for the 2023-24 bar year.
He brings the same passion to his other ventures, including his wrongful convictions pro bono work.
“Unfortunately, when you have the full force of government on the other side of you, you’re fighting up a hill,” Rushing says. “Regardless of a person’s innocence, with that much weight coming against you, it’s almost insurmountable. I’m passionate about making sure the government works for, not against, the people. This experiment only works if you have people believe in your government, and they’ll only do that when you do the right thing by them.”
Rushing urges his younger colleagues to never stop dreaming and striving for more. “I challenge young people to dream beyond your current circumstance, wish beyond the place you are in,” he says. “Also, be nice. It’s the greatest currency anyone can have. You don’t need to be mean or cutthroat to make it.”