Chicago: Playground for Opportunity
I’m a Chicagoan until Chicago ends. I was born during one of the first major political shifts in Chicago history, two months before Harold Washington was elected as the first black mayor of Chicago. And my mom did what I did for President Obama, at the time she was Harold Washington’s executive assistant. I guess it was written in the stars for me to become who I am today, and I attribute that to my city. Chicago is such a political town and I was born at a time when the city was becoming what it could be at its best. So naturally, I have this fire for this city. I was away for so long, and I was so excited to get back, because this is home. It’s just a magical, special place.
At a time when, in the news, Chicago has a bad reputation, it’s important to understand there are still true blue Chicagoans fighting for this city. I love Chicago, obviously, and will go to bat for it each and every time. My late mother, Desiree Lynn Tate, instilled such pride in me for this city at such an early age. In summertime Chi, my mom and her sister-friend had Baby Ashley stuffing invitations to an event for “I Dream a World,” a book with portraits of black women who changed the world. This event was held at none other than the world-renowned Art Institute of Chicago. I remember vividly being 5 years old, tying raffia bows for the invitations and going to the Art Institute with her for the event.
There’s so much culture in this city, and I was luckily thrown into it at such a young age. Luckily. It’s the type of thing that I want to give back to and pay forward.
She was raising me to not only be proud of who I am, but also where I come from. When she passed away in 2018, it was an obvious decision to take over her one and only other baby, Tate & Associates. She worked for years to uplift this city and its diverse and underprivileged communities, and I am proud to continue that work each and every day. It’s also why Chicago is the headquarters for Fortis Global. This city is the backbone of my life. It’s how I started and where President Obama got his start. It bred us. It molded and shaped us and so many other special people.
There’s so much culture in this city, and I was luckily thrown into it at such a young age. Luckily. It’s the type of thing that I want to give back to and pay forward. Chicago makes headlines for the wrong reasons, but there’s so much culture and beauty here. This city allowed me access to some of the most precious and amazing resources, and they were right in my back yard. I’ve lived in the Historic Jackson Boulevard District for 25 years, and it’s so rich in community and diversity. There’s never been a moment where I haven’t been proud to be born and raised right here. I’m even proud to be a Dolphin for life, being an alumnus of the illustrious Whitney M Young Magnet High School.
Things I’ll never forget, learning our alma mater in Miss Brown’s choir class in what seemed like the highest octave ever.
The hopes and dreams of our tomorrow link us together, within the walls of Whitney Young we’ll make them come true, they’ll come true — they’ll come true. In Whitney Young there beats a heart of strength and contentment. Our loyalty to her we know we’ll always possess, we’ll possess — we’ll possess. She bears the name of one who rendered service to all men. He stands out in our minds as one who taught peace and love towards mankind, towards mankind. Whitney Young, Whitney Young, this is our song for Whitney Young. Whitney Young, Whitney Young, this is our song for Whitney Young!!
Walking in the footsteps of those who paved the way before me (looking at you, fellow Dolphin, Mrs. Obama), it ignited this fire, this interest in me, for the amazing opportunities in my neighborhood and throughout the city. I’m all about these programs, like those offered at Breakthrough Ministries, for at-risk youth that highlight the beauty in their back yards. Literally these kids are right in front of these dope, amazing, interesting opportunities that they lose out on because they don’t have the capacity, and several organizations in Chicago work tirelessly to fix that.
No matter how far I go or how long I’m gone, this city continuously surprises me – the way that we can reinvent ourselves but also stay exactly the same.
I could go on and on about Chicago and what it means to me, but the point is, that this city and community is what made me. It’s a community of love. There’s nowhere else that we could start a company like Fortis Global. I still do logistics for the Obamas when they are traveling, and I often travel with them. And we share a kindred spirit. A spirit that this city created, and I’m thankful for each opportunity I have been given. No matter how far I go or how long I’m gone, this city continuously surprises me. The way that we can reinvent ourselves but also stay exactly the same. I was gone in Washington D.C. for 13 years, and when I got back, I drove around my old spots like I’ve never left. There’s always some new theater or restaurant… just such a vibrance for life. Chicago has waves… people come in waves. But there’s always this culture and foundation in Chicago. It’s a comfort – like yes, this is where home is. And there is always something new to look forward to. Chicago is my kind of town!