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Your Office Fashion Says More About You Than You Think

Tue, 2015-04-07 15:20
There's the vibes you think you're putting out there by the way you dress ... and then there's reality.

Maybe you're a genius who doesn't care about an outward appearance, or maybe you spend more time on your wardrobe than you do at your job. Fast Company has another great office-centered PSA that will hopefully help you figure out what your work attire says about you.

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Why I Was Heartbroken When the Wisconsin Badgers Lost to Duke (And Why That's Normal)

Tue, 2015-04-07 14:25
It's a tale as old as time: You're a sports fan. A sports fan who thinks this could be "the year" for your team. You want your team to win so badly it hurts (like, it actually hurts, because you cheered so loudly you no longer have a voice, and you're pretty sure the nail-biting stress of the postseason has given you acid reflux).

And then... your team loses. You watch as your favorite players hang their heads, and your own heart similarly breaks.

That was me on Monday night as I watched my team -- the Wisconsin Badgers -- fall to the Duke Blue Devils in the 2015 NCAA Championship game. You've probably seen the viral video of the Villanova band member who valiantly played her piccolo through her tears after her team's loss in the Round of 32. Wisconsin now has our own meme-worthy display of team heartbreak in the sad young man wearing the red Teletubby costume.

Unless you belong to the lucky few, a sports fan's journey ends the same way each season: just short of one more W. And if you aren't part of the fandom, you probably wonder why so many people care so much about a bunch of players (in this case, college students as young as 19 years old) they don't even know.

Plenty of reasons, actually.

As spectators, we will most likely never experience for ourselves (unless you're an elite athlete who also happens to be a fan, like Aaron Rodgers) the overwhelming thrill and flood of emotion that comes with winning a trophy on a national stage. Rooting for the players gives us a chance to "own" a minuscule share of the team's success. As psychology professor Ronald F. Levant put it in a 2010 article, "Identifying with your sports teams is one of the ways you can vicariously experience success, and in real life, success is hard."

Tough, tough ending for Wisconsin. Heck of a season. Collegiate careers end for Josh Gasser and Frank Kaminsky.

— Kaitlin Sharkey (@KRoseSharkey) April 7, 2015

After the Duke loss, when I saw this photo of Frank Kaminsky and Josh Gasser, I swore I could feel the players' pain. A bit dramatic, you think? Maybe not. In a January 2015 piece for the Washington Post, Eric Simons, author of The Secret Lives of Sports Fans, wrote, "In all kinds of unconscious ways, a fan mirrors the feelings, actions and even hormones of players."

Simons said in an email correspondence with HuffPost that people feel for athletes "because you know rationally what it means to them, and because you wanted so badly for them to achieve something." So there's sympathy involved, but there's empathy, too -- something Simons details in his book. In this case, the fan treats the loss "as not just something affecting [the athlete] but as a personal loss."

And it's possible to feel both at the same time, he adds. "You can feel like you personally lost something and you can feel bad for players that you like."

The moment the Duke Blue Devils were named the 2015 NCAA Champions, my social media feeds exploded with messages from and to Badger fans -- the majority of them kind words and support for the group of young men who were likely feeling all kinds of awful. However, there was plenty of frustrated commentary as well. Simons said it's normal for fans to experience a range of emotions following a loss.

"It's so fascinating, all the things that go into your response to a game ... there's so much individual variation ... And it illustrates a really important point, I think, about how messy our response to life is ... We can hold competing and even contradictory thoughts and emotions in our heads, and the players and the fans are all doing this -- you're proud, and disappointed, and sad, and sympathetic, and maybe frustrated or angry, and all at the same time, of course, and that jumble can be overwhelming ... which is why if you're a Wisconsin fan or player, you may spend today just sort of staring blankly at the walls."

It's not all doom and gloom and staring at walls for fans of defeated teams, however. HuffPost editor Anna Almendrala writes in this piece from January 2015 that sure, your blood pressure might rise during a game, which isn't ideal, and you may experience sadness after a loss, but participating in sports fandom "is also linked to higher levels of well-being and general happiness with one's social life." And in a 2014 Seattle Times article, sports columnist Larry Stone referred to studies that suggest "rabid sports fans have higher self-esteem and are less depressed, less alienated and less lonely."

So while we may be disappointed today, Wisconsin fans, we'd arguably be far worse off without the fandom. Keep your chins up, Badgers.

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Hero Who Drove Jeep Off Tow Truck: 'They're Sharks ... So I Put It In Drive'

Tue, 2015-04-07 13:20
The working man's hero speaks!

The Chicagoan who famously drove his Jeep Wrangler off a tow truck last week told The Huffington Post on Tuesday that he had no choice but to "put it in drive" -- his dog was in the passenger seat when the tow truck driver was leaving.

The man, who only gave his name as Victor, said his Jeep was still running when he left the Walgreens parking lot for about a minute to pick up some grub across the street.

"I saw the tow truck backing up to my Jeep, so I walked up and let him know, 'Hey, I'm moving it,'" Victor told HuffPost Weird News. "He decides to lift it up anyway and take off with it ... and my dog."

Victor saw the YouTube video of his daring escape, which instantly became a viral sensation. In dramatic footage caught by Tony Marengo last Sunday night, Victor can be seen sitting in his vehicle -- which was being lifted up by the tow truck at the time -- yelling at the driver to stop.

He told HuffPost that he'd had enough, and rolled down the window to scream, "Hey buddy, watch this!"

That's when he gunned it.

Victor said he was afraid to speak out until he confirmed that what he did was completely legal.

"Legally he’s supposed to put me down if I’m there during the towing process," Victor said. "He thinks he’s gonna take my car with my bulldog in it? Hell no!"

He said he knew what he was getting into by parking at the Walgreens, and usually has an indifferent relationship with tow truck drivers. But he alleges that this particular tow truck driver was breaking every rule in the book.

"[The Walgreens tow people] are known for being sharks. They take people very quickly, and I knew what I was doing," he said. "I'm pretty good at paying for parking and following the rules. This guy was just an insane crazy bastard! I know tow truck drivers have to do their jobs, but trying to take off with me and my dog inside? That's not right. It's holding my car for ransom."

-- This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.

Blues Forward Ryan Reaves Calmly Pulls His Own Tooth Out During Game

Tue, 2015-04-07 12:45
A victory by the skin of their teeth -- literally.

During Sunday night's game between the St. Louis Blues and the Chicago Blackhawks, Blues forward Ryan Reaves took a hard hit from Brent Seabrook, sending him face-first into the glass.

Reaves ended up on the bench, where he ever-so-calmly reached into his mouth and pulled out his own tooth. He then handed it off to a trainer, presumably for safe keeping until the tooth fairy gets ahold of it.

Novocaine? More like NOPE-vocaine.

We'd love to joke about the Blues having a toothless offense, but they actually won the hard-fought game 2-1.

-- This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.

Watch Kanye West Rap With His Mom In An Unearthed Video

Tue, 2015-04-07 11:47
Kanye West's loving relationship with his late mother Donda has been well-documented in interviews, his music and his design work, and in a recently unearthed video, we see candid, touching moments between the two. The clip below, which debuted on YouTube last week, shows Kanye rapping with his mother in a kitchen. Donda reminds him of a verse he'd written and he says, "That shows you if you have a rap that actually means something, it's good. It stands the test of time if you say something."

Then they sing "Hey Mama," which was released on 2005's "Late Registration." Knowing what we do about their relationship and the effect Donda had on Kanye -- he recently said "Only One" was influenced by his mother's spirit -- the video is beautiful in a totally non-corny way, showing the deep, deep connection between mother and son.

h/t The Fader

-- This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.

Let This Breakup Flowchart Tell You How To Get Over Your Ex

Tue, 2015-04-07 09:47
"It just wasn't meant to be." Thanks ... that's helpful.

Use all the flowery sayings and uplifting expressions you want, but getting over an ex isn't about words, it's about ACTION. You must occupy and surround yourself with the people and things you had, you know, before your heart was ripped out. It won't be easy, but that's how you'll eventually move on.

This is a handy step-by-step guide to getting over an ex.

RIP, Leon Bass

Tue, 2015-04-07 09:39

Leon Bass told the story of his remarkable life in his memoir.

No matter how glorious a life we live, how dizzying the heights we scale, death comes to us all.

On Saturday, it came to Dr. Leon Bass, a man whom I was honored to call my friend since 1997.

Leon was so many things to so many people during his 90 years of life.

A husband, father, brother and son.

A friend, neighbor and educator.

A veteran, an author and a fighter for social justice.

The lifelong Philadelphian who never forgot from whence he came lived a life rich in family, meaning, accomplishment and joy.

Leon and his lovely wife Mary had a supportive and caring marriage that last more than half a century, produced two upstanding, righteous and productive children in Leon, Jr. and Delia, each of whom had two children of their own.

He served with honor as an educator for 34 years, rising from a classroom teacher in a classroom of nearly 50 children to serve as principal at a number of schools for close to 20 years.

He completed his dissertation and dug within himself to write a memoir, Good Enough: One Man's Memoir on the Price of the Dream, that has sold thousands of copies.

These are all noteworthy and remarkable achievements, and I will remember and miss the moments we shared together.

Moments of humor.

Like the response he gave upon hearing that a colleague was about to get married for a second time.

"Once more into the breach, dear friends," Leon replied before addingl, "Remember, it's not the ring on your finger, it's the ring in your nose that counts."

Moments of strength.

Such as the time in 2000, when he was beginning a talk to a group of freshman at Dorchester High School in Boston.

When he saw that some of the students were not paying attention, the 74-year-old Bass stopped and declared, "You want to talk, you come up here and talk."

And stared.


The students hushed and stayed quiet for the rest of his hourlong presentation.

Moments of intimacy.

Like when he would share the reverence he held for his father Henry Bass, a Pullman Porter who would encourage his son by telling him,

"Don't worry about the mule going blind,
Keep your hands on the plough
and hold the line."

And moments of wondrous connection.

Like the time when Dunreith and I went with Leon to the home of Dr. Calvin Morris, former director of the Community Renewal Society, where I worked for five years at The Chicago Reporter.

Nearly 60 years earlier, Dr. Morris had been one of those fifth-grade students Leon in the crowded classrooms he described.

Dr. Morris told me that Leon had taken the class to his home and showed the children a bookshelf filled with books.

The young Morris went home to his grandmother, who was raising him, and told her that one day he wanted to have a bookshelf just like Mr. Bass.

Close to six decades later, in Dr. Morris' home on Chicago's South Side, Leon saw the bookshelf he had inspired his former student to collect.

Shelf after shelf in Dr. Morris' spacious, tastefully decorated apartment was covered with books.

Dr. Morris had traveled the world, worked under the Rev. Jesse Jackson at Operation Push and been the leader for years of a venerable social justice non-profit organization.

Yet at that moment, he seemed much more like a 10-year-old boy showing his fifth-grade teacher that he had turned out well and that the older man had truly shaped his life.

Dr. Morris showed us bookshelves, but he also showed that he had absorbed the message of Leon's life, which was that it is possible to live with honesty and idealism and service and grit, that seemingly insurmountable obstacles can be met with grace and dignity and humor and love.

Leon taught us that.

Dr. Morris told that story to the audience at fundraisers for education non-profit Facing History and Ourselves that honored Leon in Chicago and Cleveland.

Before the Cleveland event I was privileged to share a lunch with the two men and one of Dr. Morris' former students who had served as a substitute teacher at Benjamin Franklin High School during Leon's final year there.

Sitting among three generation of black male educators with doctorates from Philly, I was honorary on about five levels.

But they welcomed me right in, and what a treat to hear about the gifts these men had given to their students, their community, the world and each other.

Part of the beauty of Leon's life is that he ultimately was honored for his contributions and his service, even at places that he previously had been shunned.

Former U.S. Rep. William Gray and Attorney General Eric Holder brought Leon and other black veterans who had fought in the segregated United States Army to venerate them for risking their lives to protect liberties and freedoms they did not enjoy when they returned.

With Facing History, he returned on an integrated bus to Toogaloo College in Mississippi. As a young soldier getting his training in the Jim Crow South, Leonhad been forced to stand in uniform toward the back of a bus while staring for close to 100 miles at empty seats in the front section in the front of the vehicle that were set aside for whites.

For decades he answered the call to bear witness given to him by Holocaust survivor Nina Kaleksa, who implored him to share what he had seen and done with audiences outside of the students at Benjamin Franklin High School in Philadelphia, where he served as principal for 14 long, hard years.

Leon traveled to schools and penitentiaries and community centers and churches and mosques and temples.

He told all who gathered about his anger at being told by his country that he was not good enough, about his blinders coming off when he witnessed the atrocities of the Buchenwald concentration camp, and about his becoming a follower of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Always he would ask, "Is the price too high?"

For Leon, the answer was always, "No."

Many, many teachers would introduce Leon by saying that his visit to the schools they had attended as children was the most memorable experience they had ever had in education.

Leon would often end his presentations by talking to the audience about the importance of education and love.

He'd adapt the words of James Baldwin and close by saying:

Either we love one another,
Either we hold to one another,
Or the seas will engulf us
And all of the lights will go out.
We - you and I - have an awesome responsibility
We must keep the lights shining.

Leon, you met your responsibliity more ably than anyone I have ever met.

We thank you.

We will miss you.

We love you.

Domino's Will Give Out Free Pizza If There's An MLB No-Hitter

Tue, 2015-04-07 09:27
Just weeks after Domino's offered 50 percent off all online orders for March Madness, the company is back with yet another sports-centric deal. This time you'll get a free pizza with the return of Domino's MLB no-hitter pizza promotion. So if you're looking to score a free pie, you'd better hope that nobody scores.

The promotion, which is called "DomiNoNos," will go into effect for both the first AND second no-hitters of the MLB season. According to Domino's, participants must first register with to make an account, and then log into to claim their winning code. The first 20,000 people to register will receive codes for their free pizzas. Fans almost got lucky on Opening Day on Monday, until Oakland A's pitcher Sonny Gray lost his no-hit bid in the eighth inning.

Last year, the first no-hitter of the season occurred on May 25, 2014 from pitcher Josh Beckett of the Los Angeles Dodgers. The second occurred only a few weeks later, June 18, 2014, from fellow Dodger Clayton Kershaw. Sounds like you know the team to watch.

Regardless of who gets the no-hitter -- free pizza and great baseball? Now that's a home run.

H/T Thrillist

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Starbucks, McDonald's Expand Tuition Assistance Programs

Tue, 2015-04-07 08:43
NEW YORK (AP) -- Starbucks says its workers can now have four years of tuition covered for an online college degree from Arizona State University instead of just two, marking the latest sign that companies are rethinking their treatment of low-wage workers.

The Seattle-based coffee chain says the decision is part of its commitment to "redefine the role and responsibility of a public company."

The expansion of the program comes as employers increasingly seek to win favor with customers by cultivating their images for being socially responsible. Last week, McDonald's also announced it was expanding a college tuition assistance program to workers at its more than 14,300 U.S. stores. At its company-owned stores, McDonald's said workers would get a pay bump and be able to earn paid time off as well.

Among the other major employers that have announced wage hikes recently are Wal-Mart Stores and Gap Inc.

The public declarations of improved pay and benefits come as the growing income disparities between the richest Americans and everyone else have become a major political issue. Last year, more than a dozen states and multiple cities raised their local minimum wages, according to the National Employment Law Project. And since late 2012, ongoing protests by labor organizers have highlighted the financial hardships of fast-food and retail workers, and generated negative publicity for McDonald's and Wal-Mart in particular.

"People understand the glaring differences between those at the top, and workers who aren't making that much," said Tsedeye Gebreselassie, a staff attorney at the National Employment Law Project, which gets funding from unions and has supported the protests for pay of $15 an hour and unionization for low-wage workers.

Already, Starbucks is known for offering workers health care coverage and company stock, which are considered unusual benefits in the retail and fast-food industry. And Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz said the coffee chain's education program is helping build customer loyalty as well.

"Consumers want to choose those companies that have like-minded values as them," he said.

Additionally, Schultz said Starbucks is fighting to "attract and retain great people," and that workers have higher expectations from employers.

"The benefits of yesterday may not be as relevant today," he said.

The tuition program is a collaboration between Starbucks and Arizona State University, which charges roughly $30,000 for two years of its online degree program. Without providing details, Arizona State University President Michael Crow said the school will "more than break even" with the tuition it collects for Starbucks workers. He said that money will be reinvested into expanding educational opportunities.

As part of the agreement with Starbucks, ASU is providing an upfront discount or scholarship of about 42 percent of the standard tuition for eligible workers at the chain's company-owned U.S. stores. That means Starbucks would be responsible for up to 58 percent.

The amount Starbucks pays stands to be less, however, since many workers are expected to qualify for federal Pell grants and other aid as a result of their limited incomes. Workers would pay whatever costs are leftover, and Starbucks would reimburse them at the end of each semester.

Previously, Starbucks had said it would pay back workers after the completion of 21 credits, which had prompted some criticism that workers were being forced to wait too long for reimbursement.

So far, Starbucks Corp. says nearly 2,000 workers have enrolled for the program; the chain has more than 140,000 workers at its company-owned U.S. stores and support centers. Workers can pick from a variety of fields to study and are not required to stay with Starbucks after earning their degrees.

As part of the initial agreement, Starbucks agreed not to promote undergraduate degrees from other universities to its workers, and Arizona State University agreed not to enter into a similar partnership with another company without prior approval from Starbucks for the first couple years of the program.


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The Next Tech Boom Is Taking Place Behind Bars

Tue, 2015-04-07 08:14
When San Francisco-based venture capitalists Chris Redlitz and Beverly Parenti walked into San Quentin State Prison in 2010 to speak with a group of inmates that a friend was mentoring, they didn’t know what exactly to expect.

But the men behind bars, whom Redlitz described as “the most engaged audience I’ve ever spoken to,” blew him away with their enthusiasm -- and business plans. That means a lot given Redlitz's extensive background advising and investing in digital media and tech startups such as LevelUp, Wish and Bottlenose through his work with Transmedia Capital.

The experience at San Quentin, Redlitz said, started him thinking: What if they created something to engage those men, sitting idle for years upon years in California’s oldest prison, and help them turn their ideas into reality? Parenti was “not enamored” with the idea, he recalled.

Putting skepticism aside, they began to research prison programs in the United States, and that same year their passion project was born: The Last Mile. TLM is an intensive tech entrepreneurship program for San Quentin inmates that Redlitz and Parenti hope can be a model for prison education.

“[The inmates] have no sort of attachment or information or exposure to the people from the outside. They don’t have a conduit to it,” Redlitz said. “I figured we could leverage the relationships we have in Silicon Valley and be that conduit to others, for them to be educated and get involved.”

Chris Redlitz speaks during a meeting of The Last Mile's tech entrepreneurship program.

TLM is bringing tech expertise to address one of the American criminal justice system's biggest problems: high recidivism rates.

In the United States, according to the most recent data from the federal Bureau of Justice Statistics, about 68 percent of state prisoners released in 2005 were re-arrested within three years. Given that 2.3 million people are currently incarcerated nationwide -- and that it costs taxpayers an average of $31,286 a year to incarcerate just one inmate -- the price of recidivism is huge for cash-strapped states and devastating for those who end up, again, behind bars.

Research has shown that in-prison education programs can go a long way toward reducing the recidivism rate. According to a 2013 Rand Corporation report, which was supported by the U.S. Departments of Justice and Education, each $1 invested in prison education reduces incarceration costs by $4 to $5 over the first three years after an inmate’s release. Further, inmates who participate in education programs behind bars are an estimated 43 percent less likely to re-offend.

"Our findings suggest that we no longer need to debate whether correctional education works," Rand senior policy researcher Lois Davis wrote in the report. "But we do need more research to tease out which parts of these programs work best.”

Meanwhile, government funding for prison education programs has been on the decline, which leaves many former inmates with few employment skills upon their release, driving them right back where they came from.

Participants in The Last Mile's tech entrepreneurship program, the first of its kind in the United States.

TLM is attempting to fill that void. Its entrepreneurship program meets two times a week for six months and relies on instruction from volunteer mentors, guest speakers and even alumni of the program, themselves former inmates.

Participants, some of whom are on the tail end of long sentences and have never even used the Internet, learn how to use computers, how to connect on social media -- tweeting and blogging through handwritten messages transcribed by volunteers -- and how to form a business. The program has the support of the California Department of Corrections and Prison Rehabilitation.

Each run of TLM is capped off by Demo Day, during which participants present their ideas for startups to an audience that’s a mix of fellow inmates and some of Silicon Valley’s best and brightest. The event was featured in a mini-documentary from filmmaker Ondi Timoner, released last month by Wired magazine.

One graduate of the program is Chrisfino Kenyatta Leal, who was released from prison in July 2013 and began an internship at the San Francisco tech campus RocketSpace the same month. He now works there as campus services manager and has helped bring two other TLM graduates on board, Leal said in a HuffPost blog article published March 30.

It is a win-win scenario for both the inmates, who find stable, well-paid employment, and the employers, who find motivated, dedicated workers. And Leal’s example is not unusual, Redlitz said, which is why he is confident that what they're doing in San Quentin is scalable. The program has been so successful that they’ve expanded their offerings, adding a coding class last fall.

“When you’re giving someone a second chance and you see the desire and dedication they put in that surpasses many of the entrepreneurs we invest in, many of the companies we invest in, I think that’s part of why the economics are there,” Redlitz said. “Once these guys see someone cares and they realize there is actual, real hope here, there is no stopping them.”

Brian Hill, a J.D.-MBA student at Northwestern University, was similarly impressed by the determination of inmates that he observed as a child when his father taught classes at California's Folsom State Prison. Today, he too is working to further the education of the incarcerated, although his effort has taken a very different form.

“They are hungry to learn and hungry to be employed when they get out,” Hill said. “They want anything that can help them achieve that.”

His company, Jail Education Solutions, has created a platform called Edovo for specially designed tablet computers that can be used inside correctional facilities.

Jail Education Solutions' tablets provide an incentive-based learning platform for inmates.

The computers, operating on a closed network, can be rented at low cost by inmates, who choose educational content that best suits their interests and needs -- including literacy training, GED studies, college coursework, vocational programs, financial instruction and substance abuse therapy. Thus far, the company has been financed through grants and other support from such groups as the incubator Impact Engine and the MacArthur Foundation. Those two groups are based in Chicago, as is Jail Education Solutions.

“In one day, we get more educational and vocational treatment programming available into the hands of one inmate than any inmate in the history of the world,” Hill said. As the prisoners successfully complete coursework, they earn credits that can be used toward “purchasing” music, movies and games, so there is an incentive to learn.

By the end of April, the tablets will be available in four correctional facilities -- two in Pennsylvania, one in California and one in Illinois -- and Hill said he is receiving many more requests. He is hopeful, he said, that the tablets will be in the hands of 50,000 inmates by the end of the year.

Hill suggested that the use of tablets can make a big impact on prison education efforts because traditional programs often have too few slots and long waiting lists.

“A small minority of the [prison] population gets any sort of programming while they’re in corrections, and that’s a lot of wasted idle time that makes facilities less safe and leaves individuals unprepared,” Hill said. “It’s arrested development and it’s doing a lot of damage in the long term."

This post is part of a Huffington Post What's Working series, in partnership with #cut50, co-sponsors of the recent Bipartisan Summit on Criminal Justice Reform (Washington, D.C., March 26). The Summit was part of a movement to popularize support for criminal-justice reforms while also having comprehensive discussions about the policies, replicable models and data-driven solutions needed to achieve systemic changes. The series will focus on such solutions. For more information on #cut50, read here. And to read all the posts in the series, see our What's Working coverage here.

Voters Head To The Polls In Chicago's First Mayoral Runoff

Tue, 2015-04-07 02:40
CHICAGO (AP) — Chicago voters are heading to the polls in the city's first mayoral runoff as Rahm Emanuel seeks a second term over Cook County Commissioner Jesus "Chuy" Garcia.

The runoff Tuesday is the first since the city switched to nonpartisan elections in the 1990s. Emanuel failed to win the necessary majority for an outright victory in February. Garcia had the second highest number of votes in the five-candidate field. Emanuel is a former White House chief of staff who has campaigned hard, trying to convince voters that a second term would be the best way to navigate Chicago's serious financial problems.

Garcia is a former alderman and state senator who's criticized Emanuel for not listening to neighborhood residents. He's relied on his community contacts, high-profile endorsements and a strong field operation.

Illinois Poll Shows Strong Opposition to Fracking

Mon, 2015-04-06 16:04
Nearly half of Illinois voters oppose fracking, according to a new poll by the Simon Institute. The statewide poll reveals 48.6 percent oppose fracking while only 31.8 percent believe it should be encouraged, even if there are economic benefits. Opponents outnumber supporters in all regions of the state, including downstate where fracking is promoted as a jobs plan.

The numbers reinforce that fracking is one of the issues which cost Governor Pat Quinn support among Democrats and independents in his losing re-election campaign. Illinois Democratic voters overwhelmingly oppose fracking with 61.9 percent against and 19.7 percent in favor. Independents oppose it as well, with 48.3 percent against and 30.6 percent in support.

Any Illinois candidate looking for support from young voters should stand against fracking. A whopping 74 percent of 18-24 year-olds don't want it.

A solid 54 percent majority of Chicago residents are opposed. That's a bad sign for Rahm Emanuel who claims his aggregation deal is a clean energy victory, even though it powers Chicago with natural gas from the Marcellus shale fracking fields.

An election analysis released in January by the Paul Simon Public Policy Institute identified low turnout among Democrats, and downstate opposition as reasons for Governor Pat Quinn losing re-election. During the campaign Quinn faced protests against his support for fracking, and as this poll shows, his position is unpopular among the Democratic base. With neither candidate for Governor taking a position against fracking, it left little reason for concerned voters to show up on election day.

There's no issue for which politicians and lobbyists in the statehouse bubble are more out of touch with Illinois voters than on fracking.

After a bill to regulate and launch fracking passed the Illinois legislature, industry lobbyists launched a campaign to portray opponents as a tiny fringe. Overwhelming public outcry against fracking at public hearings provided a reality check. A few accommodating statehouse green groups helped reinforced the false impression that regulation is a consensus middle ground. The Simon poll shows industry claims that fracking opposition is limited to a small group are outrageously false.

Some statehouse Democrats are still out of touch. Central Illinois Senator Dave Koehler recently introduced an amendment to the Illinois Clean Jobs bill that would allow some utilities to pay for converting coal plants to natural gas with a new fee charged to customers. The act creates a market-based carbon auction that may push coal plant operators to make minor upgrades or convert to natural gas. Koehler's amendment would help utilities to keep aging, polluting plants running at ratepayer expense rather than investing in new clean energy.

Most Illinois fracking is on hold, at least temporarily, due to low oil prices. Yet, the issue could play a role in the 2016 election, particularly in Democratic primaries for U.S. Senate and Congress. Although some Democrats, like Pat Quinn and former Colorado Senator Mark Udall, have supported fracking regulation as a compromise middle crowd, it's a position that alienates voters on both sides of the issue while gaining support from no one but industry donors. Democratic candidates in a competitive primary would be smart to support a ban on fracking.

The poll question adopts a "jobs v. the environment" narrative which assumes fracking would benefit the economy. But, many residents oppose fracking because they don't believe another boom and bust extraction cycle will help the downstate economy. Most people don't want to locate their business or home in a community with poisoned water and air.

Low oil prices and public opposition provide an opportunity for downstate Illinois to build a healthy economy without the destructive impacts of fracking. As the poll shows, many voters are looking for leaders who offer more than empty assurances that regulation will make fracking safe or provide good jobs.

15 Illinois School Districts With the Top-Paid Administrators and Teachers

Mon, 2015-04-06 15:05
Education in Illinois comes under much scrutiny. But in order to propose effective ideas to make the system better, Illinoisans should know what the current system looks like. Here are 15 Illinois school districts with some of the highest-paid administrators and teachers in the state.

50. Oak Park ESD 97 - $36.29 million

  • Student-admin ratio: 235.2

  • Avg. admin salary:109,442

  • Full-time teachers: 426

  • Avg. teacher salary:71,709

49. Moline-Coal Valley CUSD 40 - $36.31 million

  • Student-admin ratio: 234.1

  • Avg. admin salary:110,246

  • Full-time teachers: 426

  • Avg. teacher salary:66,860

48. Belvidere CUSD 100 - $36.46 million

  • Student-admin ratio: 272.5

  • Avg. admin salary:92,430

  • Full-time teachers: 480

  • Avg. teacher salary:59,247

47. Lake Zurich CUSD 95 - $36.48 million

  • Student-admin ratio: 183.4

  • Avg. admin salary:104,094

  • Full-time teachers: 389

  • Avg. teacher salary:70,074

46. Bremen CHSD 228 - $36.71 million

  • Student-admin ratio: 107.9

  • Avg. admin salary:123,797

  • Full-time teachers: 283

  • Avg. teacher salary:93,350

45. Batavia USD 101 - $36.71 million

  • Student-admin ratio: 178.5

  • Avg. admin salary:103,131

  • Full-time teachers: 375

  • Avg. teacher salary:73,762

44. Twp HSD 113 - $37.63 million

  • Student-admin ratio: 99.9

  • Avg. admin salary:152,534

  • Full-time teachers: 261

  • Avg. teacher salary:109,903

43. Round Lake CUSD 116 - $38.03 million

  • Student-admin ratio: 186.4

  • Avg. admin salary:92,595

  • Full-time teachers: 442

  • Avg. teacher salary:63,267

42. Thornton Twp HSD 205 - $38.25 million

  • Student-admin ratio: 121.8

  • Avg. admin salary:98,337

  • Full-time teachers: 390

  • Avg. teacher salary:75,376

41. Crystal Lake CCSD 47 - $38.46 million

  • Student-admin ratio: 213.6

  • Avg. admin salary:102,161

  • Full-time teachers: 532

  • Avg. teacher salary:55,064

40. CHSD 99 - $39.57 million

  • Student-admin ratio: 112.2

  • Avg. admin salary:115,460

  • Full-time teachers: 324

  • Avg. teacher salary:85,351

39. Cons SD 158 - $39.66 million

  • Student-admin ratio: 234.8

  • Avg. admin salary:83,929

  • Full-time teachers: 535

  • Avg. teacher salary:54,109

38. CHSD 155 - $40.54 million

  • Student-admin ratio: 128.7

  • Avg. admin salary:116,014

  • Full-time teachers: 393

  • Avg. teacher salary:78,963

37. CHSD 218 - $41.79 million

  • Student-admin ratio: 130.9

  • Avg. admin salary:116,772

  • Full-time teachers: 374

  • Avg. teacher salary:81,157

36. Lincoln Way CHSD 210 - $41.87 million

  • Student-admin ratio: 262.3

  • Avg. admin salary:124,345

  • Full-time teachers: 411

  • Avg. teacher salary:85,427

See the 35 Illinois school districts with the top-paid teachers and administrators at Reboot Illinois.

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This Business Model Cuts Profits To Give Poor Communities Access To Healthy Food

Mon, 2015-04-06 14:54
One nonprofit is using its expertise on bringing better foods into underserved areas to help other groups hoping to do the same.

D.C. Central Kitchen (DCCK) -- an organization fighting hunger -- produced a manual for other nonprofits to utilize based off of its successful Healthy Corners program. The manual -- made available for free in February, according to the Chronicle of Philanthropy -- provides crucial information on how the program got off the ground, why it was successful and what tactics didn't work along the way.

The Healthy Corners program partners with dozens of local businesses to provide fresh produce and nutritional snacks to corner stores in the capital's food deserts -- low-income neighborhoods that lack grocery stores or markets.

Through the program, DCCK sells produce to local stores at wholesale prices without trying to make a profit -- something other food distributors don't do -- which helps the businesses sell the food at affordable, below-market rates.

According to the nonprofit's website, Healthy Corners sold nearly 141,368 units of produce and snacks at participating locations in the last year.

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A lot can happen in a year. Our Healthy Corners program went from partnering with 29 to 68 corner store locations,...

Posted by DC Central Kitchen on Monday, December 29, 2014

"We don’t have all the answers," Michael F. Curtin, Jr., CEO of the nonprofit, wrote in the manual. "We do have a few though, and we’ve asked lots of questions over the past four years."

He noted that, despite what some may believe, poor community members will buy healthy foods if they have access to them.

Often, available options in food deserts consist of fast food restaurants and convenience stores offering limited choices when it comes to affordable fruits and vegetables, according to the Department of Agriculture. The department -- which deems an area a food desert if it meets specific criteria concerning poverty and access to supermarkets -- reports there are about 23.5 million Americans living in such communities.

Although DCCK has celebrated progress with its Healthy Corners program, research suggests advocates need to do more than simply place healthier options in food deserts, such as provide nutrition education to community members, NPR reported. That's why DCCK offers services like cooking demonstrations and marketing support to stores -- so residents understand the benefits of eating healthier and can learn how to incorporate doing so into their lives.

Oakland, California-based Food Shift is one of four groups that have taken advantage of the manual thus far, Erica Teti-Zilinskas of DCCK told the Chronicle of Philanthropy. Food Shift is partnering with other groups to create a similar program bringing healthy foods to local stores, and plans on benefitting from the DCCK manual in making its own initiative successful.

"It’s really helpful to have a model that has already done this and is working," Food Shift Director Dana Frasz told the outlet.

Learn more about the Healthy Corners program here.

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The 29 Most Heartbreaking Moments Of The 2015 March Madness Tournament

Mon, 2015-04-06 13:22

With every March Madness win comes a heartbreaking March Madness loss. Student-athletes from all around the nation come to the NCAA Tournament with dreams of being a part of the team that will live in basketball history forever, but few actually accomplish that goal.

With only a few teams left, nearly every team has now felt the sting of defeat. Cinderella runs have ended, hopes have died. Ahead of the men's championship game tonight, let's take a minute to appreciate the passion that makes the tournament so special. Thanks to all these players and fans for wearing their hearts on their sleeves. Until next year ...

Shaw: Police brutality can be traced to police secrecy in Illinois

Mon, 2015-04-06 12:54
With a national conversation surrounding concerns about police brutality taking center stage, the Better Government Association's Andy Shaw examined where such issues come from when they happen in Illinois.

Shaw writes:

Police brutality leaves two victims in its violent wake: Physically abused suspects, who obviously suffer the most painful injuries; and taxpayers, who take a financial beating when government is ordered to compensate targets of excessive force.

Consider: It's cost Chicago taxpayers more than $500 million to settle brutality lawsuits over the last decade, a BGA investigation revealed last year.

We also found that suburban Cook County spent $42 million to settle similar cases in the past five years.

Relatively few cops, including former Chicago Police Cmdr. Jon Burge and his infamous torture crew, are responsible for most of the egregious behavior that sparked the lawsuits.

Still, some Illinois law enforcement officials want to purge those painful memories by destroying documents that can provide valuable information about patterns of police misconduct, or uncovered evidence.

Read the rest of Shaw's thoughts on police, secrecy and police records at Reboot Illinois.

In other municipal news, February's jobs report from the Illinois Department of Employment Security and the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics found that statewide unemployment is down 0.1 percent to 6 percent. Broken down, though, only nine of the state's 14 metro areas saw job increases. Areas that added jobs include the Chicago area and the Springfield area, while the Peoria and Bloomington areas saw jobs leave. See the full breakdown by city and job numbers at Reboot Illinois.

NEXT ARTICLE: Best of the best: The top 10 hospitals in Illinois

Reading and Writing as Ticket Out of Solitary Confinement -- and Prison

Mon, 2015-04-06 09:31
In 2004, at 16, I was arrested, charged, and incarcerated as an adult at the Washington, D.C. Jail. I grew up in one of the most dangerous housing projects in the city, East Capitol Dwellings. Shootings, drug dealing and what I call chaos all around.

My mom wanted to move me and my brothers out, but she didn't make enough money as a day-care assistant. My dad didn't live with us and he didn't know what I was into. The older guys had become my role models. When I was 12, I gained membership in the street game by stealing cars. There was so much money. My friends and I just got in deeper, basically running wild. My mom tried to stop me, but I didn't listen. I went to juvenile detention once for six months, but came straight home and continued doing the same crazy things.

At the jail, I joined a group very different than the one I belonged to on the streets, Free Minds Book Club & Writing Workshop, a nonprofit that came to the unit twice a week. I had never read an entire book or written a poem before, but I found myself doing both. In our weekly sessions, I felt comfortable enough to take off the hard mask I wore and show my true feelings. Our small group became a brotherhood as we left the street beefs behind to discuss books. The authors were people that looked and acted like us. I will never forget the first book that really hit me, "Makes Me Wanna Holler," by Nathan McCall. He was a young guy who was incarcerated and became a journalist at the Washington Post. I thought, "If he can do it, then maybe I can."

The seeds of change were planted, but it would take years for them to grow. In federal prison, there was so much violence and negativity around me, I went back to my old ways. Free Minds never gave up on me though, sending me books, letters, birthday cards, and a newsletter called "The Connect." I was often in the SHU ("Special Housing Unit," otherwise known as solitary confinement). You are locked down 23 hours a day and you feel like the whole world has forgotten you. Then you get mail and you feel human again.

One day, I was sitting in the SHU for acting up, when I got "The Connect" newsletter. The theme was "Pay it Forward." Reading it gave me the same feeling I got when I read "Makes Me Wanna Holler." I remembered, I did want to change. I wanted to give back after taking so much from so many. At that moment, my journey of change really began. For the next five years, I read everything I could. I changed who I hung with and how I acted. It wasn't easy, but Free Minds helped keep me on track.

After serving 10 years, at the age of 27, I was released and given a Greyhound bus ticket from California to D.C. I felt like I was in "The Twilight Zone." When my dad and stepmom met me in D.C., I was in a daze. I was so quiet in the car they thought something was wrong, but I was just taking it all in. The next day, on the Metro, I thought everyone was watching me. I was so used to being watched by guards every minute. I went straight to the Free Minds office.

They welcomed me with open arms and I enrolled in their job-readiness apprenticeship. I needed to learn so many things after spending my growing up years locked up. They encouraged me to speak up instead of using hand signals that I was used to using on the yard. They took me to "Write Nights," where D.C.-area volunteers gather to write comments on Free Minds members' poems and mail them back to the authors in federal prison. I shared my story with the group and gained confidence in myself. They have been so encouraging and don't judge me as a felon.

Now I co-facilitate Free Minds' violence-prevention project "On the Same Page." We lead weekly workshops for middle schools, high schools and young men on probation. I see myself in those young people and I'm driven to share my journey so they don't end up in adult prison like I did. A reporter from the Washington Post came to one of our sessions and published a front-page article about us! I remembered that my inspiration, Nathan McCall, had once worked at the Washington Post and now I was actually in it. I couldn't believe it!

I am proud to say that I have a full-time job now as the Community Outreach Assistant for the Corrections Information Council (CIC-a DC mayoral agency). My job is to act as a bridge between families and their incarcerated loved ones as we work together to improve conditions in the Bureau of Prisons system. I want to be there for others like Free Minds is for me. They are my second family.

This post was written with the assistance of Seana Drucker.

This post is part of a Huffington Post What's Working series, in partnership with #cut50, co-sponsors of the recent Bipartisan Summit on Criminal Justice Reform (Washington, D.C., March 26). The Summit was part of a movement to popularize support for criminal-justice reforms while also having comprehensive discussions about the policies, replicable models and data-driven solutions needed to achieve systemic changes. The series will focus on such solutions. For more information on #cut50, read here. And to read all the posts in the series, see our What's Working coverage here.

HuffPost What's Working Honor Roll: These Veterans Are Helping Keep Chicago's Youth Safe

Mon, 2015-04-06 09:29
As journalists, we dutifully report on what's going wrong, from scandals and corruption to natural disasters and social problems. But far too often the media fails to show the whole picture, neglecting to tell the stories of what is working. From scientific breakthroughs to successful crime-reduction initiatives, the What’s Working Honor Roll highlights some of the best reporting and analysis, from a range of media outlets, on all the ways people are working toward solutions to some of our greatest challenges.

NationSwell: Meet the Hard-Working Veterans Offering a Safe Passage to Chicago Youth

A non-profit organization known as Safe Passage has found a creative way to seek solutions to two big challenges at once: Chicago's youth violence and veterans' student loan debt.

For so many service men and women, student debt from college can build up while they are overseas and become extremely difficult to pay off once they return. At the same time, youth violence in parts of Chicago has reached crisis levels. That's why two veterans from Chicago started Safe Passage: to raise money and pay off veterans' student loan debt, and then have those veterans give back 100 to 400 hours of community service. Safe Passage assigns veterans to watch over some of the most troubled neighborhoods in Chicago to engage with young people and promote peace and positivity. More than 400 veterans now participate in the program and the levels of violence in the areas served by Safe Passage have significantly dropped.


Medium/Bright: How Pinterest Is Revolutionizing Your Child’s Classroom

The Guardian: Welcome to Eureka Springs, Arkansas: a 'desirable homosexual destination'

The New York Times: Fighting TB with a Drive-in Film and Test

If you know a story you think should be on our Honor Roll, please send an email to our editor Catherine Taibi via with the subject line "WHAT'S WORKING."

18 People Who Ran Into Their Doppelgangers In Real Life

Mon, 2015-04-06 09:22
Maybe we're not quite as unique as we thought.

Listen, we're all individuals and each one of us is special in some way, blah, blah, blah, etcetera, etcetera. But the way we look isn't really as distinct as we think. Somewhere out there is someone who looks strikingly similar to you. It's just a matter of whether or not you'll ever cross paths with that person in your life.

These 18 Redditors were lucky enough to run into their doppelgangers out in the world and document it for the Internet's amusement.

A Century of Progress

Mon, 2015-04-06 08:14
Ever hear of Oscar DePriest? He made history a hundred years ago Monday.

Few today remember him -- about the only lasting nod to his legacy is an elementary school bearing his name in East Garfield Park -- but a hundred years ago, on April 6, 1915, Oscar DePriest made history, becoming the first African-American elected alderman in Chicago.

DePriest holds several other firsts: He earlier was the first African-American elected to the Cook County Board of Commissioners, serving two two-year terms, from 1904 to 1908, and he was the first African-American elected to Congress from the North, in 1928.

He also, ignominiously, was the first African-American alderman to resign from the City Council under cloud of indictment, just two years after his 1915 election. He stood accused of protecting policy kingpins who ran a numbers racket that flourished in many of Chicago's mostly poor and mostly black neighborhoods, but was later acquitted. His attorney in the case was Clarence Darrow.

In many ways, he represents the early part of the story of the African-American experience in Chicago, arriving with little or nothing, parlaying luck, intelligence, savvy and hard work into establishing financial success, becoming a part of a thriving middle class and an emerging upper class and then using that success to take the last steps to equal footing, attaining and wielding political power.

He represented the Second Ward, which included Bronzeville, and had been active in politics - in the city's then-thriving Republican Party -- reliably turning out votes for the Republican machine.

According to the Encyclopedia of Chicago, DePriest spent his time on the council advocating for increased rights for African-Americans and also pursuing patronage jobs for residents of his ward.

Once off the council, he didn't let the corruption charges sideline him and became integral in the growing effort among African-Americans for political power, forming the Peoples' Movement, which scholar Charles R. Branham described as the only significant militant black political organization in Chicago before Operation PUSH.

Branham writes that DePriest used it as his personal political party, aligning with politicians who would grant concessions to African-American political power.

One such pol was William Hale "Big Bill" Thompson, who was elected to his first term as mayor at the same time DePriest won his city council seat. Another was U.S. Rep. Martin Madden, a millionaire quarryman and powerful chairman of the Appropriations Committee.

Madden represented the First District for decades.

When Madden died unexpectedly in his office just off the House floor in the Capitol mere weeks after winning the 1928 primary, Thompson backed DePriest to succeed him.

DePriest was poised for the opportunity, having reportedly encouraged one of his young lieutenants, William L. Dawson, to oppose Madden in the primary as a stalking horse to soften Madden's hold on the district, which was becoming increasingly African-American with the influx of residents arriving in the city through the Great Migration.

Dawson, who lost a leg to a train on a trip to Detroit to speak on behalf of DePriest, later ruled the South Side as alderman and congressman - as a Democrat. He served in Washington from 1943 until his death in 1970.

DePriest served three terms in Congress.

But first, a bit about his background. He was born to former slaves in Florence, Alabama, in 1871. Florence was the birthplace, earlier, of fugitive slave Dred Scott and, two years after DePriest's birth, bluesman W.C. Handy.

DePriest's family fled Alabama when he was young as a part of the Exodus Movement, a precursor to the Great Migration. Many African-Americans realized the heightened danger and animosity toward them as white Democrats re-took control of political machinery as the Reconstruction period ended and Confederate states again became self-governing, without federal oversight.

Most, like the DePriests, moved to Kansas, where they hoped they could live without the threats to their freedoms as citizens.

After school, where he studied bookkeeping, DePriest ended up in Chicago at 18 and worked as a house painter and plasterer before becoming active in politics.

He also later became wealthy as a real estate broker, taking advantage of white flight from areas as the city burgeoned, selling to the new African-American arrivals from a new, more widespread migration from the south from the 1920s onward.

While in Congress, DePriest not only represented the First District of Illinois -- which has had an unbroken line of African-American representatives from DePriest to Bobby Rush -- but he symbolically represented African-Americans nationwide: people named their children after him, he spoke for people of color and represented their interests and defended their rights.

His three terms saw him fighting bigotry in Congress, in Washington and in the nation.

Although the lone African-American in Congress, he wasn't without friend in the capital. Many looked to make his tenure hospitable, realizing the historic nature of the moment. House Speaker Nicholas Longworth, at the urging of another Chicago Republican representative, Ruth Hanna McCormick, changed the way new representatives were sworn in.

Until that time, members were sworn in state by state. People feared that any of several hostile southerners in states sworn in before Illinois' delegation might try to block DePriest from being seated. Longworth swore them in all at once, mooting any such attempt.

DePriest fought to integrate the Capitol dining facilities, demanding an investigation after an aide and the aide's son were thrown out of the House dining room.

"If we allow segregation and the denial of constitutional rights under the dome of the Capitol," he thundered on the House floor, "where in God's name will we get them?"

This, remember, was at a time that the law of the land was the uneasy "separate but equal" doctrine that came from the Supreme Court's Plessy decision. The House dining room space for blacks was in the basement, next to the kitchen. Unequal.

He defended the call for the investigation, which he got, by saying, "If we allow this challenge [to the right of African-Americans to eat among white patrons] to go without correcting it, it will set an example where people will say Congress itself approves of segregation."

But he had to pull every parliamentary trick to get a hostile House to look into the matter. A history of his time in Congress, published on a House of Representatives website, notes that he gathered the names of 145 representatives to bypass the Rules Committee, where his request for the investigation was sent to be buried.

Although he won and the investigation was launched, a party-line vote of three Democrats to two Republicans left the segregation policy in place by not making any recommendations for change.

He sponsored anti-lynching legislation and, as a response to the mishandling of the Scottsboro case in 1931, sought to allow trials to be moved if defendants were unlikely to get a fair hearing from a local jury. One success was his effort to bar race as a factor in hiring practices in the New Deal jobs program known as the Civilian Conservation Corps.

Shortly after arriving in town, DePriest found himself at the center of controversy as the ugliness of racism was laid bare.

Congressional wives are traditionally invited to a tea at the White House, hosted by the first lady.

Lou Hoover, like Speaker Longworth, wanted to protect Jessie DePriest from probable boorish behavior from some of the other wives, but her solution was the opposite of Longworth's: Instead of having one tea, Hoover split them into five separate events.

After news of the tea was reported, criticism mounted both in the media and in letters to the White House. Most were from outraged bigots, but some were from people outraged by the outrage.

The objection was social mixing.

DePriest was quoted in an Associated Press story in 1929 as saying: "I want to thank the Democrats of the South for one thing. They were so barbaric they drove my parents to the North. If it had not been for that I wouldn't be in Congress today. I've been Jim Crowed, segregated, persecuted, and I think I know how best the Negro can put a stop to being imposed upon. It is through the ballot, through organization, through eternally fighting for his rights."

Despite the trail he blazed, he was also a victim of a generational change: He and his parents were Republicans because of Lincoln, and he hewed to social policies of the Republican Party that worked for a man in his 60s who had attained wealth and a successful career. But the Depression, which hit the nation hard and its black citizens harder, caused those younger to switch allegiance from the Republican Party to the Democrats and Franklin D. Roosevelt.

His re-election bid in 1934 attracted national attention because it was the first race that featured an African-American challenging an African-American. DePriest lost to Arthur Mitchell.

DePriest eventually returned to Chicago and won a term on the City Council from the Third Ward. He died on May 19, 1951, at the age of 80 from complications that arose after he was hit by a bus.

His home was in an eight flat building he owned at 4536-38 S. King Drive; South Parkway in DePriest's day. It is registered as a National Historic Landmark.