Cardiss H. Collins, originally Cardiss Robertson, (born September 24, 1931) is 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.
In the 1980s, Collins warded off two strong primary challenges from Alderman Danny K. Davis, who would finally be elected to replace her in 1996.
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 childcare 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. She also engaged in a memorable and intensely personal debate with Rep. Henry Hyde over Medicaid funding of abortion that year.