Matt Reichel was born June 7th, 1981 at Skokie Valley Hospital in north suburban Chicago, and grew up in the Rogers Park neighborhood of Chicago. He attended elementary school at Joyce Kilmer Elementary School and continued his education at the Whitney Young academic center beginning in 7th grade. He stayed on at Whitney Young through the end of high school, before earning his bachelor’s in political science at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign.
While in high school, Matt was active in marching, concert and jazz bands: playing alto saxophone in all three. He also took an early interest in politics, having from a young age been brought along to help volunteer for politicians on Chicago’s north side: including 49th ward alderman Joe Moore and 9th district U.S. congresswoman, Jan Schakowsky.
Until going off to university, Matt lived between his parents’ houses in Rogers Park and Albany Park: half growing up in the 9th district and half in the 5th district. As a native of Chicago’s north side born of two parents whose lineage dates back to Chicago’s northwest side for most of the 20th Century, there can be no question regarding Matt’s connection to Chicago, and this district in particular.
In the summer of 2000, Matt began working with Illinois Peace Action: the state chapter for the nation’s largest peace and nuclear disarmament organization. His initial job with the organization was as an entry-level canvasser, though gradually he took on an increasingly diverse role.
During the school year, he began organizing students at the Champaign Urbana campus to fight for a divestment of the University from corporations that fund nuclear arms and support the ongoing Apartheid in Israel. He was in the process of working to inform students about the totalitarian practices of companies like Boeing and Lockheed Martin, who were busily recruiting at a career fair on campus, when the attacks of 9-11 occurred. When those 4 Boeing jets were used as weapons against American civilians, Matt Reichel was busily informing students about the danger posed by military contractors like Boeing to the health of our Republic. No other moment in Matt’s life was as important as this one in setting him up to be an activist, and advocate of peace, for the duration of his life.
Matt continued to fight against the wars of aggression in Afghanistan and Iraq: ultimately having a hand in organizing some of the largest rallies ever in central Illinois as the Bush administration commenced military operations in Iraq.
Upon graduation from the University, Matt was hired to be the office manager of National Peace Action’s new regional office in Chicago, where he continued to be a key organizer in the Chicago area anti war movement. He oversaw a growth plan within Peace Action that saw the organization’s membership double in a year’s time in the Chicago area.
In the fall of 2004, Matt decided to pursue his graduate studies in Paris, a city that had always intrigued him for its unparalleled cultural and political history. He could think of no more appropriate location to pursue a graduate degree in international relations than that city which has played the role of being the diplomatic capital of the world for centuries.
While living in Paris, Matt worked on several political movements, including the “non” vote on the European Union (EU) Constitution, the resistance to the anti-labor Contrat Première Embaunche (CPE), and the ensuing movement against the Fillon bill. He was inspired by the French culture of legislating from the streets, and the overall sense of freedom felt by activist organizations operating outside of the specter of a totalitarian government.
He returned to the states in the Fall of 2007, and began immediately working for the Kucinich for President campaign in Las Vegas, Nevada, after which he joined the Congressman’s re-election campaign in his Cleveland district during the primary season.
Since that time, Matt has been working as a freelance French translator and interpreter, while continuing to contribute to various progressive news sites and blogs as a political analyst.
He is now located on Chicago’s Northwest side and actively campaigning for his progressive bid to be the next congressman from Illinois’ 5th district.
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