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.

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.

The next primary election takes place in President Obama's home state of Illinois on Tuesday. While Republicans are looking to capture delegates in the presidential race, there are several House races on the ballot — mostly due to redistricting.

In one of the most closely watched of those races, U.S. Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. is facing a challenge from fellow Democrat and former Rep. Debbie Halvorson.

The state Supreme Court in North Dakota is about to consider this question: Can lawmakers require a college to name its sports teams after a Native American tribe?

For decades, University of North Dakota teams have been known as the "Fighting Sioux." It's a name some see as an honor and others find demeaning. Now, the long fight over the Fighting Sioux may be settled in a courtroom.

2,400 Logos And A 'Vexing' Dispute

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STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

We're going next to the town of Harrisburg, Illinois, one of many Midwestern towns struck by tornados. Harrisburg suffered the most of those towns. The tornado killed six people, with winds of up to 170 miles per hour. NPR's Cheryl Corley is there.

Several states — including Illinois and New York — are now pushing forward with plans to offer lotteries on the Internet. That's in the aftermath of an opinion from the Justice Department, which reverses a long-standing policy and says states are free to conduct online gambling within their borders.

Sears Holdings announced Tuesday it will shutter at least 100 stores as a cost-cutting measure following a disappointing holiday season. The retailer's namesake Sears and Kmart stores have struggled against competitors such as Wal-Mart, Target and Home Depot. Sears says it will save as much as $170 million through the store closings. It did not say how many employees will lose their jobs.

Although the U.S. gained more than 120,000 jobs last month, the numbers of long-term unemployed barely shifted, and unemployment rates for African-Americans continued to go through the roof.

A recent NPR and Kaiser Family Foundation poll shows that although the long-term unemployed face many of the same difficulties regardless of race, there are distinct differences between blacks and whites struggling to find work.

Former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich has been sentenced to 14 years in federal prison following his bribery and extortion convictions. He is expected to begin serving the sentence in February.

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LINDA WERTHEIMER, HOST:

The public corruption saga of former Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich is nearing an end. Earlier this year, he was found guilty of 18 counts of corruption, including trying to sell the U.S. Senate seat once held by President Obama. Today, a federal judge begins a hearing to determine Blagojevich's sentence. NPR's Cheryl Corley reports.

In Chicago, city officials and demonstrators say the recent Occupy Chicago protests are a sort of dry run for next year's simultaneous NATO and G-8 summit meetings.

In this sagging economy, homes can sit on the market for weeks or months. So, would-be sellers often move on, and instead of handing the keys over to new owners, they hand them to tenants. Sometimes that goes well — sometimes not.

"This is the new reality," says Chicago Realtor Frank Maguire. "Our market is, you might sell your home or you might not. There's a whole world of people who are unintentional landlords."

It's been map-drawing time all across the country, as cities and states create new districts for state lawmakers, members of Congress and city council members based on 2010 Census numbers.

In Chicago, where African-Americans left in droves during the past decade and the Latino population rose, leaders are redrawing the boundaries of the city's 50 wards. What's at stake is representation and political clout.

Population Changes

The Cook County sheriff's office in Illinois has launched a new effort to identify eight unidentified victims of mass murderer John Wayne Gacy. The department wants relatives of men who disappeared between 1970 and 1978 to participate in saliva tests to compare their DNA with that of the victims' bones.

There is a slight stench as Brandon Owen steps out of his truck. The biologist is a wildlife technician with ABC Humane Wildlife Control, and his company has captured 687 skunks so far this year in northeastern Illinois — about 200 more than last year.

Johnson Publishing Company, the black American icon based in Chicago, is hiring. It's a sharp turnaround for a company that saw circulation numbers and revenue for its flagship Ebony and Jet magazines plummet over a number of years. Those numbers are on the rise now, and company officials say questions about Johnson Publishing's ability to survive the turmoil in the media industry are no longer relevant.

Former White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel served two presidents, represented Illinois in Congress, and on Tuesday, will mark his 100th day as mayor of Chicago. He promised early to put his own mark on Chicago as he took on the city's challenges. Some think he's succeeding.

In the anteroom at City Hall, Emanuel is surrounded by Chicago memorabilia. A few books about Chicago sit near caps of the city's sports teams. The new mayor says he has no regrets about leaving the national stage.

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