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Dick Simpson

Dick Simpson

Dick Simpson is a long-time activist professor of political science at the University of Illinois at Chicago and a former Chicago alderman. An expert on Chicago politics, political reform, and elections in general, he has published widely and affected public policy.

Simpson is a progressive thinker whose values were shaped by early civil rights struggles. His passion for social justice and democracy earned him a place in line at a 1960 stand-in and a top spot in Eugene McCarthy’s presidential run. Simpson demonstrated at the 1968 Chicago Democratic National Convention and protested Reaganomics in a march on Washington. In the 1970s, this young and independent-minded Chicago alderman angered boss Mayor Daley so much that he ordered the sergeant-at-arms to force Simpson into his seat. He didn’t bow to the machine then, and hasn’t done so since.

Colleague, friend, and adviser to such Chicago personalities as Mayor Harold Washington, U.S. Rep. Jan Schakowsky, Jesús García, Studs Terkel, and Don Rose, Simpson is called on to do over 100 media interviews a year. He is also an accomplished Africanist.

Over his 50-year career as a political science professor and politician, Dick Simpson has devoted much of his energy to advancing the cause of democracy and participatory politics. He resides in Chicago, where he continues to oppose the power of the political machine.

Simpson has taught at the University of Illinois at Chicago for 50 years. He has written and co-authored numerous books, including Teaching Civic Engagement Across the Disciplines (2017) with Elizabeth C. MattoAlison McCartney, and Elizabeth A. Bennion; Winning Elections in the 21st Century (2016) with Betty O’Shaughnessy; Corrupt Illinois (2015) with Thomas J. Gradel; Twenty-First Century Chicago (2015) with Constance Nixon and Melissa Mouritsen; The Struggle for Power and Influence in Cities and States (2011) with Betty O’Shaughnessy and James D. Nowlan; and Rogues, Rebels and Rubber Stamps, a history and critical analysis of the Chicago City Council (2001).

His memoir, The Good Fight: Life Lessons from a Chicago Progressive, is available online, in bookstores, and in libraries.

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