Latin School of Chicago

Latin Magazine Summer 2019

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Page 15 of 55

Sharecropper to Shareholder. is short, yet powerful phrase holds great significance for me and my family. It's a story of hope, inspiration, empowerment, opportunity and ownership. e theme of No Limits speaks directly to what I'm going to share with you. It's about not placing limits on ourselves, our families, but most importantly, one of our most precious resources: our children. My journey has taken me from the West Garfield Park neighborhood in Chicago; to the Latin School, where I graduated in 1996 and now serve on the board; to Tulane, where I studied engineering; to Procter & Gamble for my first job; to New York to get my MBA at Columbia Business School; and now back to Chicago, where I work as a private equity investor at a firm that manages over a billion dollars. Now, that's not exactly where my story started. is is a sharecropping family (fig.1) from the 1800s. For those unfamiliar with the term sharecropper, these were families that picked cotton in fields on behalf of land owners and were provided meager wages and a place to live. It was the next iteration of slavery in our country. It evokes feelings of fear, misery, hopelessness. Here are two obituaries: Dave Barnard, born in 1885 and Catherlean Shorter Barnard, born in 1910. 1885, just 20 years after the end of the Civil War and the supposed end of slavery. ey also happen to be my great-grandparents. ey were sharecroppers in Mississippi in a small town called Ruleville. ey had eight children, and number four is sitting with us in this room today. Her name is Ruby Riley, my grandmother aka "Granny." Granny picked cotton in those fields as a young child with her siblings and her cousins so that their family could have a place to live. And like millions of African-Americans during the 1950s, they fled the South, moved north as part of the Great Migration, and they settled in Chicago in the North Lawndale neighborhood before ultimately buying a home in Austin. My Granny barely got a high school education, but through all that hard work, her three children did finish high school. My mom went on to marry my father, whom she met at Lindblom, and they went on to have three children. I'm the oldest. I have a younger sister, Quinessa, and my baby sister, Adrienne. We had limited economic resources in our household. My mom worked two jobs for as long as I can remember. She didn't allow the neighborhood, the crime, the poverty, the lack of resources to stop her from focusing on something that perhaps Granny wasn't quite prepared to push, and that's education. So my mom, given those limited resources, was still able to put three children through college. Now, my middle sister had the first child of the family, my little niece, Kaydence. But before that, something unfortunate happened in my life. I lost my mother. February 19, 2006, it was a Sunday. My sister called me that ursday and said, "Rendel, you need to come home." And I said, "Is this really the time?" My sister said, "Yep. is is the time you need to come home." My mother passed on that Sunday. en, a couple years later around this same time, my niece was born. Sharecropper to Shareholder Latin alum Rendel Solomon '96 is on a mission to instill a sense of hope in underserved youth by turning them into empowered shareholders. Inspired by his great-grandparents' experience as sharecroppers in the early 1900s and his 8-year-old niece's interest in learning what it means to be a shareholder, Solomon founded the nonprofit organization One Stock One Future. This transcript is from his talk at the 2018 TEDxChicago event themed "No Limits," where he shared his family's powerful journey from sharecropper to shareholder. My Story 14 AROUND SCHOOL Figure 1

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