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Alysia Tate

Journalist Alysia Diane Tate was born on August 7, 1972 in Denver, Colorado. Her mother, Tamra Tate, was a journalist; her father, George Tate, a counselor, professor and former minister. Tate grew up in Denver, Colorado where she attended Park Hill Elementary School, Smiley Middle School, and East High School. In 1994, she graduated from Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois with her B.S. degree in journalism.

Upon graduation, Tate was hired as a reporter for the Daily Herald in Chicago, Illinois. Then, in 1998, she moved to The Chicago Reporter, where she worked as a reporter before being promoted to senior editor. In 2001, Tate was appointed editor and publisher of The Chicago Reporter, where she led the editorial, fundraising and marketing efforts of the publication. From 2008 to 2011, she served as chief operating officer of the Community Renewal Society, a faith-based, social justice organization that publishes two independent magazines, including The Chicago Reporter. In 2013, Tate was hired as a policy advisor and speechwriter for Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan. In addition, she has worked as a project and communications consultant, whose clients have included the Chicago Community Trust, the Lloyd A. Fry Foundation and the University of Illinois at Chicago’s College of Education.

Tate has been active in a number of civic organizations, including the Chicago Network, Leadership Greater Chicago, and Re-evaluation Counseling, an international, volunteer-based peer counseling and social change organization. She served on the board of DePaul University’s Institute for Business and Professional Ethics, and has served on the advisory board of Illinois Issues, a public affairs magazine published by the Center for State Policy and Leadership at the University of Illinois at Springfield. Tate also served on the Local School Council of the William H. Ray Elementary School in Chicago’s Hyde Park neighborhood.

Tate has received recognition for her work including the Clarion Award from the National Association for Women in Communications; the Unity Award in Media from Lincoln University; and the Award of Excellence from the Chicago Association of Black Journalists. She was listed as one of Ebony magazine’s leaders to watch in 2008; was a Leadership Greater Chicago fellow in 2004; and was included in the 2002 “40 Under 40” listing in Crain’s Chicago Business. Tate also served as an Edgar Fellow in 2014, joining a bi-partisan group of emerging leaders exploring policy issues affecting the state of Illinois

Alysia Tate was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on October 21, 2014.

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Park Hill Elementary School

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Northwestern University

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Journalist Alysia Tate (1972 - ) was the editor and publisher of The Chicago Reporter. She also served as a policy advisor and speechwriter for Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan.


Office of the Illinois Attorney General

Community Renewal Society

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Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Alysia Tate's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Alysia Tate lists her favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Alysia Tate describes her mother's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Alysia Tate describes her father's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Alysia Tate talks about her father's education

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Alysia Tate describes how her parents met

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Alysia Tate talks about her parents' activism

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Alysia Tate talks about her parents' relationship

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Alysia Tate talks about her father's decision to leave the church

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Alysia Tate describes her parents' personalities and who she takes after, pt. 1

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Alysia Tate describes her parents' personalities and who she takes after, pt. 2

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Alysia Tate describes her earliest childhood memory

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Alysia Tate remembers spending time with her father

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Alysia Tate describes the Park Hill neighborhood of Denver, Colorado

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Alysia Tate describes her early educational experiences

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Alysia Tate talks about the development of her racial identity

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Alysia Tate talks about her influential teachers

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Alysia Tate remembers her extracurricular activities

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Alysia Tate talks about her experiences at East High School in Denver, Colorado

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Alysia Tate recalls her decision to attend Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Alysia Tate describes the racial cliques at East High School in Denver, Colorado

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Alysia Tate talks about Malcolm X's impact on her life

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Alysia Tate describes the African American student community at Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Alysia Tate remembers the black faculty at Northwestern University

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Alysia Tate talks about the racial politics at Northwestern University

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Alysia Tate talks about her experiences in a white sorority at Northwestern University

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Alysia Tate talks about her political activism at Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois

Tape: 3 Story: 10 - Alysia Tate remembers resigning from the Gamma Phi Beta Sorority

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Alysia Tate talks about the development of her feminism

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Alysia Tate talks about the problem of sexual assault at Northwestern University

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Alysia Tate remembers being targeted in an investigation at Northwestern University

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Alysia Tate talks about the discrimination against black women

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Alysia Tate remembers the O.J. Simpson trial

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Alysia Tate remembers changing her major from theater to journalism

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Alysia Tate remembers her internship at The Boston Globe

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Alysia Tate remember joining the staff of the Daily Herald

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Alysia Tate remembers accepting a position at the Chicago Reporter

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Alysia Tate remembers the World Conference Against Racism in Durban, South Africa

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Alysia Tate remembers Barack Obama's political career in Illinois

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Alysia Tate talks about her introduction into city politics in Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Alysia Tate talks about reporting on the murder of Ryan Harris

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Alysia Tate reflects upon the need for mental health reparations

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Alysia Tate talks about housing discrimination in Chicago, Illinois







Alysia Tate talks about her political activism at Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois
Alysia Tate remembers the World Conference Against Racism in Durban, South Africa
This is what I call my militant phase (simultaneous).$$(Simultaneous) So, this is a transition--I know when we first started talking about college, you said that you felt that you had to choose an allegiance--$$Yes.$$--and you volunteered to choose the black side of the coin because that's the way the political straddle and everything was set up at Northwestern [Northwestern University, Evanston, Illinois] and it was a good time to just go and make that transition.$$Yeah.$$But, it seems it's becoming--it's a more gradual change than just--you didn't just change when you got there, right?$$No, no. It was definitely--it was a number of factors. I mean, it was also, you know, being in Chicago [Illinois]. Well, I mean, I'm in Evanston [Illinois], but I'm, you know, surrounded by the City of Chicago. For the first time, I'm really getting close to my, my sister [Karen Tate Warner] who grew up on the South Side of Chicago and still lives at 84th [Street] and Michigan [Avenue].$$So, had you met her before?$$I had met her before. Now, we're fifteen years apart.$$Okay.$$So, she used to come to Denver [Colorado] to visit our dad when I was little and she was a teenager, but then she had her first child at age twenty. So, you know, I was in kindergarten when she had her first child. But, I, I remember, you know, visits with her from time to time, but we had never really been able to get close. So, now we're getting close, I'm taking the train, the Purple Line south until it turns into the Red Line south all the way to the South Side, and you know what happens when you see--you know, when you ride the CTA [Chicago Transit Authority] from the north to the south of Chicago, it just gets black and black and blacker until it's completely black. So, I'm--so I'm--this is the first time I'm in a city like this. This is the first time I'm in a metropolitan area with this kind of numbers of black people, with this kind of history of black leadership, you know, with Har- you know, the, the legacy of Harold Washington. So, it's--so, it's all of that, too, is happening while I'm at the school. I, I get involved in Re-evaluation Counseling, which is a peer counseling social change organization I'm still very involved with. But, but that organization is so much about challenging oppression and providing spaces and places for us to undo the effects of oppression, so I, I get connected through that through a group called Students Together Against Racial Tension, START, on campus. So, so I'm--you know, it's kind of--all these things build on each other. And, and yet, my family had no idea what to do with me. I mean, my white family had no idea what to do (laughter) with me 'cause I was--suddenly, I was angry and I was--you know, remember X--the X caps, the Malcolm X caps. You know, I had my Malcolm X stuff and like--they're like, "Who is this person? Like, what happened to her?" (Laughter) You know? So, but it was important for me to get to explore all of that and test that out and learn about that. And so I remember--you know, we had a march, the black students on campus after Rodney King. We just all dressed in black and we marched to the bursar's office and I don't know if we raised our fists in the air or if we just turned our back on the administration; I'm not sure what we did, but we were just, you know, showing our, our solidarity with Rodney King. It may have been after all of the unrest in Los Angeles [California] that we did that. I remember participating in anti-apartheid marches, you know, through Evanston and, you know, being someone involved in that--in that movement. So, all of this, this--these were just things I had never been exposed to before. And some of it was I was just at that age where you can start doing these kinds of things, but it was also the place I was in and the time--the time that I was in.$I want to ask about two things before we get you started at The Reporter [The Chicago Reporter].$$Okay.$$One is the conference in Durban, South Africa.$$Yeah, 2001?$$Yeah, the United Nations World Conference against Racism [World Conference against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance], which is a--how did you get involved in that and what happened there?$$That was through Re-evaluation Counseling. I mentioned the peer counseling social change organization I got involved with in college, that organization, we set up a project called United to End Racism and actually registered for that conference as an NGO [non-governmental organization] and sent a delegation of, of folks from our organization. So, so, Re-evaluation Counseling, RC, is a--pretty much a volunteer based group that has folks involved in--I think now we're--there are people in eighty some countries in the world, so it's an international, very grassroots kind of organization. But, from time to time, we've used this structure of United to End Racism to bring people together to share these tools and this information we have about how to heal from the effects of racism and other oppressions. So, it was a really amazing delegation of people from all over the world, different ages, different backgrounds, all kinds of things, and we did a whole series of different workshops, again, on, you know, recovering from the damage done by racism, for, for all these different groups. We even had workshops for white people on, you know, recovering from the damage done by racism 'cause we, we really put our thinking forward really around three different ways that racism affects people. I mean, one is the actual, you know--we don't believe in reverse racism and I personally don't believe in this thing called reverse racism, but I believe that, you know, there is an economic and--yeah, an economic exploitation of people, people of color around the world that's justified in the name of racism, that's one thing. Then, I believe, you know, there--that we as people of color internalize all of that and turn it against each other and ourselves, i.e., you know, black men killing each other in Chicago [Illinois]. And lastly, though, I think the humanity of white people is deeply, deeply affected by racism if you're taught to be an oppressor, if you're taught to perpetuate this horrible thing. If you're taught to believe its lies, that's deeply injurious to you as a human being and you have to actually tackle it on all those fronts for it to work. You can't do this like white people are evil thing or, you know, whatever. So, we did workshops--we did a series of workshops on all those different kind of flavors of racism with young people, with women, with, I don't know, Jews, gentiles, you know, how racism intersects with anti-Semitism. Anti-Semitism was a huge issue at that conference, honestly. Anti-Semitism is used as a wedge issue always to, to grab our attention and get us focused on blaming a group of people, usually Jews, rather than working together to deal with issues, and it was very obvious at that conference how that was playing out. Anyway, so that was an amazing experience. It was amazing to be there. It was amazing to be part of it. It was amazing to see so many thousands of people around the world who really believe that not only must we end racism, but we can by working together that we can actually undo this, that it does not have to be a reality of life forever in perpetuity. So, that was--that was really incredible. It was very unfortunate that 9/11 [September 11, 2001] happened a week or two after that conference, and so the gains from that conference just got kind of, you know, swept under the rug and then we were into 9/11 and justif- using that to justify all kinds of horrible racist policies, you know, at home and abroad. But, that experience, being in Durban, again, was another thing that sort of shaped me in terms of my commitment to tackling racism and speaking out and being visible around it, you know, using The Reporter as a vehicle to do that and using my personal life as a vehicle to do that. You know, I began to really focus on a lot of efforts on building a local community of folks involved with Re-evaluation Counseling who were committed to that work. We've--and we've done really amazing work in, in building a community of people here in Chicago doing that together, a really multiracial, you know, mixed class, mixed generational group of people doing that. So, that conference really gave me a lot of hope and inspiration I think to really know that it was okay to dedicate a lot of my life to this work.