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.

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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

In Chicago, a new policy on marijuana possession would mean adults who are caught with a small amount of the illegal drug would receive a fine instead of being arrested.

It's mostly about money and how best to use police resources.

Under current Illinois law, anyone found with less than about 1 ounce of marijuana can be charged with a misdemeanor. If found guilty, they face up to a year in jail and a $2,500 fine.

There hasn't been a school strike in Chicago for 25 years. But the current contract between Chicago teachers and the Chicago Public Schools expires at the end of next week, and tensions between the teachers union, the school district and Mayor Rahm Emanuel are ratcheting higher.

Chicago Teachers Union members outmaneuvered the mayor, school officials and anti-union education groups by overwhelmingly approving a measure that allows teachers to strike if contract negotiations fall flat.

The NAACP recently took what was for some in the organization a controversial step, when it endorsed same-sex marriage. That move has now led some local officers around the country to resign — including the group's most outspoken critic of gay marriage.

The NAACP board says it stands by its resolution calling for marriage equality. But as the nation's oldest civil rights group prepares for its national convention in July, some in the ranks say the resolution caught them by surprise, and that such an important decision deserved open debate.

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A small group of Iraq and Afghanistan War veterans and their supporters gathered in Chicago today. They were there to denounce America's role in those wars and this weekend's upcoming NATO Summit.

GRAHAM CLUMPNER: We come to this city in non-violence to stand with our brothers and sisters around the world and say that we have had enough. We are done. These wars need to end yesterday.

SIEGEL: That's Afghanistan War veteran Graham Clumpner, one of may expected to return his service medals Sunday, during an anti-NATO.

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An American city, Chicago, is playing host to the 2012 NATO Summit. That international meeting gets underway in just over a week. At the top of the agenda for President Obama and his visiting counterparts will be determining the next steps in Afghanistan. Along with dignitaries, the summit is expected to draw thousands of anti-war protesters, raising safety fears among residents and businesses in Chicago. But as NPR's Cheryl Corley reports, the city says it's ready.

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To Chicago now where a plan to close city-run mental health clinics has prompted protests. Nearly three dozen demonstrators have been jailed. Mayor Rahm Emanuel has set a Monday deadline for half the city's mental health clinics to be closed. He says the plan, which would send some patients to private clinics, will improve care.

As NPR's Cheryl Corley reports, mental health patients and their advocates aren't convinced.

Three years ago, just moments before sledgehammers ripped through an abandoned home in Chicago, the head of a demolition crew decided to save the contents of an old steamer trunk stored in the attic.

"They were about to demolish it because they couldn't get it down the stairs," says Rufus McDonald, who gathered what was inside the steamer trunk — documents and old books — and took them to a rare-book dealer in Chicago.

"He said, 'Do you know who this is?' I said, 'Nah, who is it?' He said, 'It's Richard Theodore Greener," McDonald recalls. "I said, 'Who is he?' "

In Tulsa, Okla., the families of the three victims killed during a shooting rampage Friday are planning funerals. Police say William Allen, 31, Bobby Clark, 54, and Donna Fields, 49, were shot in a predominantly black neighborhood on the north side of Tulsa by two white men.

Fields was walking home after playing a game of dominoes with friends. She was called Donna, but her given name was Dannaer. Her brother Kenneth says she was named after an aunt.

Police in Tulsa, Okla., say it is much too early in their investigation to describe the murder of three black residents and the wounding of two others as a hate crime. Two men were arrested early Sunday morning and are expected to face charges of first-degree murder and shooting with intent to kill.

Soon after Friday's shooting, authorities reached out to the public for help. Police Maj. Walter Evans, the head of a task force looking into the murders, says information started pouring in shortly after that.

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