Cheryl Corley

Cheryl Corley is an NPR correspondent who works for the National Desk and is based in Chicago. She travels throughout the Midwest covering issues and events throughout the region's 12 states.

In recent years, Corley has reported on the campaign and re-election of President Barack Obama, on the efforts by Illinois officials to rethink the state's Juvenile Justice System, on youth violence in Chicago, and on political turmoil in the Illinois state government. She's reported on the infamous Trayvon Martin shooting case in Florida and covered tornadoes that have destroyed homes and claimed lives in Harrisburg, Illinois; small towns in Oklahoma; and Joplin, Missouri.

In addition, Corley was among the group of NPR reporters covering the devastation caused by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita as they tore through the Gulf Coast. She returned to the area, five years later, and joined the reporting team covering the impact of the BP oil spill. Corley also has served as a fill-in host for NPR shows, including Weekend All Things Considered, Tell Me More, and Morning Edition.

Prior to joining NPR, Corley was the news director at Chicago's public radio station, WBEZ, where she supervised an award-winning team of reporters. She also has been a frequent panelist on television news-affairs programs in Chicago.

Corley has received awards for her work from a number of organizations including the National Association of Black Journalists, the Associated Press, the Public Radio News Directors Association, and the Society of Professional Journalists. She earned the Community Media Workshop's Studs Terkel Award for excellence in reporting on Chicago's diverse communities and a Herman Kogan Award for reporting on immigration issues.

A Chicago native, Corley graduated cum laude from Bradley University in Peoria, Illinois, and is now a Bradley University trustee. While in Peoria, Corley worked as a reporter and news director for public radio station WCBU and as a television director for the NBC affiliate, WEEK-TV. She is a past President of the Association for Women Journalists in Chicago.

She is also the co-creator of the Cindy Bandle Young Critics Program. The critics/journalism training program for female high school juniors is a collaboration between AWJ-Chicago and the Goodman Theatre. Corley has also served as a board member of Community Television Network, an organization that trains Chicago youth in video and multi-media production.

He won a Pulitzer Prize for his writing, but just as influential as his print essays were his "thumbs up" and "thumbs down" movie reviews. Film critic Roger Ebert died Thursday after struggling for years with cancer. He was 70 years old.

His thumb may have made him famous on TV, but Ebert was first and foremost a print journalist. He worked on newspapers in grade school, high school and college. With his acumen for writing came a love of movies — and on July 12, 2005, proclaimed Roger Ebert Day by the city of Chicago, he told a crowd of admirers why movies matter.

The city's murder rate has dropped dramatically over the first three months of the year. The police superintendent says it's not a victory but it is progress. After a year in which murders in the country's third largest city topped more than 500, the homicide rate has declined to a level not seen since 1959.

In Chicago, officials have released a long-feared list that places more than 50 schools on the chopping block. The public school district faces a $1 billion shortfall, and the mayor says many of the city's school buildings are half empty. Some angry parents and teachers say the plan will harm children and they'll fight to keep the schools open.

During the March Madness of 1963, playing was infused with politics. The NCAA matchup between Loyola University of Chicago and Mississippi State helped put an end to segregated basketball. Loyola's win 50 years ago became known as the "game of change."

At the time, college basketball was still predominantly white, with usually no more than two or three black players appearing on the floor at any one time. But in '63, the Loyola Ramblers' starting lineup featured four black players.

When the stage lights go up at Chicago's Goodman Theatre on Monday evening, more than 20 high school students will each have a moment to step into the spotlight and perform a monologue from one of the plays written by the late August Wilson. Chicago's contest is one of several regional finals that strives to introduce students to the Pulitzer Prize winner's work. It's also a lead-up to the national August Wilson Monologue Competition that will be held on Broadway later this spring.

It's been nearly two years since Oprah ended her daily show, and Chicago's been adjusting to the loss of the daytime talk queen. Although she left a huge void, there's no need to write an obituary for the TV talk genre in Chicago.

In the lobby of Chicago's NBC Towers, the crowd of excited fans gathered for a TV taping is reminiscent of the Oprah days of old. But instead of Oprah, they're lined up to see veteran comedian Steve Harvey's show.

"I like Steve's energy. I like his shows. He's funny. He covers all topics," says fan Deloris Neal.

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The president will leave the sequester debate behind this afternoon when he travels to Chicago. He's expected to talk about the gun violence that plagues his home town.

Fifteen-year-old Hadiya Pendleton became a symbol of the problem after she was murdered last month in a park about a mile from the president's Chicago home. NPR's Cheryl Corley reports on what activists expect from President Obama.

When there's a big snowstorm or a plane has mechanical problems, airports often turn into uncomfortable holding pens, with people scrunched in chairs, lying on floors, filling up restaurants and otherwise trying to find something to do.

That's actually good news for one company. Minute Suites is building tiny airport retreats across the country. The suites are already operating in Atlanta and Philadelphia. Next up are Dallas-Fort Worth and Chicago's O'Hare International Airport.

Hundreds of mourners, including first lady Michelle Obama, turned out Saturday for the funeral of 15-year-old Hadiya Pendleton, a Chicago girl who was shot to death just days after she and her high school band performed at inauguration events in Washington.

Her killing has catapulted her into the nation's debate over gun violence.

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New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg is taking his anti-gun campaign to Illinois and its 2nd congressional district. There, no less than 22 candidates hope to replace former Congressman Jesse Jackson, Jr. Gun violence plagued some of the Chicago neighborhoods that are part of the district. And as NPR's Cheryl Corley reports, guns have become a key issue in the race.

The gun violence that scars some Chicago neighborhoods has been a plague for one woman. Shirley Chambers first lost a child to gunfire in the mid 1990s. In 2000, a daughter and a son were shot to death just months apart. On Monday, Chambers buried her last child.

Nearly 500 people filled the pews, the choir lofts and hallways of St. Luke Church of God in Christ for the funeral of 33-year-old Ronnie Chambers, an aspiring music producer who died Jan. 26.

Hadiya Pendleton was a sophomore at King College Prep High School in Chicago. The 15-year-old traveled to Washington, D.C. last week to perform with the school's marching band at inaugural events. This week, she was shot to death by a man who inexplicably fired at her and a group of friends.

As President Obama unveiled his gun control proposals Wednesday, he highlighted mass shootings at schools in Colorado, Virginia and Connecticut. He also mentioned another group of children, not in school — the ones on the street corners of Chicago.

Chicagoan Annette Holt was at the White House during Obama's address. Her teenage son, Blair, was shot to death five years ago on a Chicago bus as he shielded a fellow student from a spray of bullets.

Authorities in Chicago on Friday will seek permission to exhume the body of a million-dollar lottery winner who ended up dead before he could cash in his winnings.

Forensic pathologists first ruled that Urooj Khan, 46, died last summer of natural causes but after further investigation, that ruling was changed to death by cyanide poisoning.

Chicago's $1.6 billion "Plan for Transformation" envisioned public housing in a way that would deconstruct an image of the city's poor all concentrated in huge housing silos.

The idea was to mix public-housing residents with market-rate condos and subsidized rentals or homes, with one-third of each in these new communities.

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In Illinois, basketball is serious business. It's the home of the six-time champion Chicago Bulls, after all. But this next story is about some NBA-sized players at a small suburban high school. A group of boys from Southern Sudan who attend this school went to court for the right to play on the court. And as NPR's Cheryl Corley reports, they've scored a win.

CHERYL CORLEY, BYLINE: There's nothing like a good tall tale and this involves some serious height.

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There's little doubt that President Obama will win a large majority of the minority vote. Polls this year show the Latino voters supporting him by large margins, and that could make the difference in some swing states. Of course, back in 2008, 95 percent of African-Americans voted for Barack Obama. The key in this election is to get those voters to actually cast their ballots, which is why the president is spending these last days of the campaign reaching out to African-Americans. Here's NPR's Cheryl Corley.

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Now to the battle for control of the U.S. House of Representatives. Republicans currently have the majority, and Democrats need to flip at least 25 seats to change that. Though most political observers say that's a long shot, Democrats are fighting hard to make it happen. We go now to the frontline of that fight.

PAUL GREEN: If the Democrats are going to take over the House of Representatives, the road has to come through Illinois.

Chicago continues to wrestle with a massive budget gap and severely underfunded pensions. Fresh off a negotiating tussle with the city's teachers and a school strike, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel on Wednesday presents his proposed 2013 budget to the City Council.

Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. is still running for office but has been out of sight for months. He is being treated for a bipolar disorder, and his wife says he will return to work when he gets his physician's permission. Three other candidates are campaigning for the seat.

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And Chick-fil-A fast food restaurants became the focus a few weeks ago of protests and counter-protests, after the CEO of the restaurant chain said he opposed same-sex marriage. Now, after a change in policy the chain, a Chicago alderman says he will no longer stand in the way of Chick-fil-A opening in his neighborhood.

NPR's Cheryl Corley reports.

About 350,000 students had attended classes for less than a week before the strike began last Monday. Members of the union's House of Delegates voted Tuesday to suspend the strike after learning details of a tentative contract agreement.

Barack Obama won more than 95 percent of the black vote in the last presidential election, and Democrats are expected to have a huge advantage this November. Even so, Republicans looked for ways to appeal to those voters at their convention in Tampa, Fla.

Though the convention hall was packed with delegates this week, it wasn't until gospel star Bebe Winans and the Tampa Bay City Life Church Chorus came on stage that there was any sizable number of African-Americans around.

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As they leave the convention in Tampa, Republican Party leaders are hoping their efforts in Florida will win over more Latino voters. Hispanic lawmakers were given high-profile speaking roles, including Florida Senator Marco Rubio, who introduced Mitt Romney last night. Recent polls suggests President Obama leads Romney 3 to 1 among Hispanics.

NPR's Cheryl Corley reports from Tampa on this week's Republican efforts at outreach.

In Tampa, "Republican Party" can take on a whole new meaning as it gets later in the convention day. That's when delegates, lobbyists, business executives and others begin to mingle, filling up the city's nightspots.

NPR producer Brakkton Booker and I began Tuesday night with a trip to 7th Street in Ybor City, the Tampa neighborhood made famous for its cigar factories of the past. Now it's a mix of restaurants, bars and trendy shops similar to New Orleans' Bourbon Street.

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This week, first lady Michelle Obama was doing something she loves to do, talking about nutrition with kids. She hosted the first state dinner for children, welcoming 54 of them and their parents to the White House.

"This is the hottest ticket at the White House, right here, because of all of you," Obama said to the children, who ranged in age from 8 to 12.

The drought that's hit huge swathes of the country is also draining the audiences for outdoor activities.

Just look at the Fox River, about 50 miles southwest of Chicago. Water swirls and plunges over a dam in Yorkville, Ill. Normally there'd be lots of folks canoeing or kayaking here, but not today.

"As you can see most of my canoes are just sitting," says Greg Freeman, the owner of Freeman Sports Shop.

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The number of African-Americans contracting HIV and AIDS runs considerably ahead of the rest of the population. And now the NAACP hopes to harness the power of the black church to help. During its annual convention this week, the civil rights group unveiled a new HIV/AIDS manual. As NPR's Cheryl Corley reports, it's designed to help ministers talk to their congregations about the problem.

The NAACP, the nation's oldest civil rights organization, holds its annual convention in Houston this week. As in any election season, the group is focused on voting rights and voter turnout. But this year, there's another issue that's front of mind: the dramatically high rate of unemployment rate among African-Americans.

Presidential candidate Mitt Romney will address the NAACP convention on Wednesday, and Vice President Joe Biden is scheduled to speak the following day. NAACP members are ready to hear their plans.

The Race To Register

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