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Joseph Erbentraut
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HuffPost Chicago Editor Joseph Erbentraut has been writing ever since he had access to his mother's typewriter while growing up in rural Wisconsin. Enamored with the keys' clickity-click sound and the simple beauty of black, perfect words against a purely white background. The medium later became a computer and the young writer's life of reporting launched with the "publication" of the Sixth Grade Times, which offered in-depth coverage of school-wide assemblies, birthday parties and breaking playground gossip. Overseeing a staff of five with an angsty teenage fist, he sold issues for a dime apiece and caused quite a stir with one particular series of bag-lunch exposes.

A decade later, Erbentraut earned a B.A. in Journalism & Mass Communication from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and moved shortly thereafter to Chicago, a city he has grown to adore. In addition to his work with The Huffington Post, his writing has been featured in the Village Voice, Windy City Times, Chicagoist, Gapers Block, EDGE Media Network and

Entries by Joseph Erbentraut

How One Community Is Kicking The Koch Brothers' Harmful Black Dust Out Of Their Neighborhood

(60) Comments | Posted February 27, 2015 | 9:52 AM

It’s not easy to take on a wealthy, multi-national corporation and win. Especially for residents of Chicago’s struggling southeast side.

But that’s exactly what's happening on the banks of the Calumet River, where the steel plants that used to give residents of a mostly Hispanic neighborhood access to a middle-class...

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Meet The Man Who Might Make Chicago Mayoral History

(11) Comments | Posted February 26, 2015 | 5:43 PM

On Tuesday, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel was dealt a surprising result in his reelection bid: Despite a massive campaign war-chest and the backing of President Barack Obama, he fell short of the number of votes he needed to avoid a runoff election against his closest rival.

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Chicago Mayoral Race Isn't Over Yet, As Rahm Emanuel Falls Short Of Votes Needed To Avoid Runoff

(119) Comments | Posted February 24, 2015 | 10:10 PM

Former congressman and White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel won the most votes in Tuesday’s Chicago mayoral election, but he failed to receive the degree of support needed from voters to avoid a runoff election in April.

In his quest for a second term as Chicago mayor,

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‘I Am Free': Former Inmates' Poetry Proves Our Hopes, Fears And Dreams Are Universal

(7) Comments | Posted February 23, 2015 | 10:19 AM

It’s not every day that Chicago photographer Sandro Miller — whose John Malkovich photo series received widespread media acclaim — receives a handwritten letter in the mail.

But one day in early 2014, Miller opened his mailbox and found a message...

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JNCO Jeans Are About To Make A Comeback (Seriously)

(111) Comments | Posted February 19, 2015 | 5:06 PM

Remember these?


Well, they’re back. Sort of.

JNCO, the clothing brand best known for its many varieties of extremely baggy jeans that looked like giant wearable tree trunks made of denim, is prepping for a relaunch.

According to Women’s Wear Daily, the Los Angeles-based...

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When They Lost State Funding, This Chicago-Based Youth Program Decided To Reach Even Higher

(2) Comments | Posted February 18, 2015 | 10:12 AM

On a Tuesday late last month on Chicago’s South Side, the staff of Donda’s House, a unique artist development program for at-risk youth that was co-founded by Kanye West, gathered around a table to discuss an upcoming application period. They were ready to launch their young program’s fourth...

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The Simple Strategies That Could Fundamentally Change How Communities View Their Police

(60) Comments | Posted February 17, 2015 | 7:35 AM

The president, police experts, activists and even some police officers have called for major changes to the American law enforcement system. Community policing -- used in Columbia Heights, Minnesota, where Captain Lenny Austin is seen here mentoring a student in 2013 -- might just be...
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In Chapel Hill And Across The Country, Thousands Honor Slain Muslim Students

(102) Comments | Posted February 12, 2015 | 9:01 AM

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. -- Thousands of people gathered at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill on Wednesday to pay tribute to the three young Muslims who were killed by a neighbor a day earlier.

The gathering was held at a central meeting space on UNC's...

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Everything You Need To Know About Chicago's New National Park

(5) Comments | Posted February 10, 2015 | 4:56 PM

Chicago is about to get a new national park -- its first ever.

The White House announced Tuesday that it will designate a section of Chicago’s historic Pullman neighborhood on the South Side as a national monument. President Barack Obama, whose community organizing work began in the neighborhood, is

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The Powerful History Of The Grammy Performance Everyone's Talking About

(79) Comments | Posted February 10, 2015 | 1:16 PM

Though Beyoncé’s powerful performance at Sunday’s Grammy Awards in Los Angeles has gotten everybody talking, few have mentioned the origins of “Precious Lord, Take My Hand,” the iconic gospel anthem the “Drunk in Love” performer sang.

The song dates back to the 1932. It was penned...

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13-Year-Old Fatally Shot In Chicago After Facebook Confrontation, Police Say

(22) Comments | Posted February 9, 2015 | 4:03 PM

Chicago parents are mourning the death of their 13-year-old son after he was shot Sunday night, allegedly as the result of a confrontation between his sisters and another group concerning a social media post.

Anthony Diaz was shot multiple times around 10 p.m. Sunday in Chicago’s Belmont...

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Chicago Mayoral Candidate Denies He Said 'Whiteys,' Demands Apology

(62) Comments | Posted February 6, 2015 | 6:59 PM

An African-American candidate in Chicago’s mayoral race is backtracking after he apparently said that he isn't prejudiced against "whiteys" during a Thursday speech.

Tina Sfondeles of the Chicago Sun-Times first reported that entrepreneur Willie Wilson made the racially charged comment during an address to the City Club of...

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Tattoo Artist Donates His Work To Help Sex Trafficking, Domestic Violence Survivors Get A Fresh Start

(5) Comments | Posted February 6, 2015 | 9:36 AM

For many, a tattoo can be a declaration of survival, of love and of independence, like a trophy.

For some others, especially people who have survived trauma, tattoos related to the past can be a hindrance in their efforts to progress in their...

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Comedians Raise Funds For A Nancy Kerrigan-Tonya Harding 'Museum' In Their Hallway

(0) Comments | Posted February 4, 2015 | 4:39 PM

It’s not a campaign for potato salad, but this might be one of the more creative uses of Kickstarter we’ve seen yet.

After streaming ESPN’s “30 for 30” documentary spotlighting the 1994 Nancy Kerrigan-Tonya Harding Olympic figure skating scandal on Netflix, Brooklyn-based comedians

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Here's What The People Delivering Your Instacart Groceries Really Think

(8) Comments | Posted February 2, 2015 | 3:54 PM

In today's app economy, part-time work just isn't what it used to be.

Once upon a time, a part-time job at a supermarket would have meant spending hours behind a cash register. These days, a part-time grocery job could mean spending hours in your car waiting for an order to...

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Chef Teaches Inmates At Cook County Jail How To Cook, How To Live

(4) Comments | Posted February 2, 2015 | 3:21 PM

When it comes to getting a fresh start in life, a jail is probably just about the last place that comes to mind — particularly one as large and with as storied a past as Illinois' Cook County Jail.

But a new beginning is exactly what’s being served up these...

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Midwest Smacked By Historic Snowfall, Basically Shrugs It Off

(128) Comments | Posted February 2, 2015 | 2:01 PM

Now this is what a blizzard really looks like.

Less than a week after meteorologists botched their forecast of a blizzard that was anticipated to hit New York City with “historic” snowfall, causing the city to preemptively shut down, another winter storm slammed into the Midwest...

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Rahm Emanuel's Biggest Threat: 'I Like The Idea Of A Fight'

(6) Comments | Posted January 28, 2015 | 2:24 PM

On Feb. 24, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel is up for re-election.

Emanuel has out-fundraised his closest challenger almost 30-to-1 and has benefited from an improved approval rating thanks to a barrage of TV campaign ads, but some still believe the mayor remains vulnerable due to voter anger over...

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This Protest Song Captures The Power Of #BlackLivesMatter Demonstrations

(5) Comments | Posted January 21, 2015 | 5:27 PM

Who says the protest song is dead?

Certainly not Sidewalk Chalk, an eight-piece, Chicago-based band who meld together hip-hop, soul and jazz and are set to release their third album, titled “Shoulder Season,” next month.

For the band’s second music video off their upcoming album, Sidewalk Chalk...

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Black Ex-Cop Shot 28 Times By White Officers Walks Free From Prison

(76) Comments | Posted January 20, 2015 | 12:54 PM

A former Chicago cop who was shot 28 times in a skirmish with police a decade ago was preparing to spend the rest of his life behind bars — until the 63-year-old’s 40-year prison sentence was commuted last week.

Last Wednesday, Howard Morgan walked free after his was among

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