LANSING, Mich. (WOOD) — Public service is in Michigan House Speaker Joe Tate’s blood.

“My dad was a firefighter for the city of Detroit, and my mom was a public school teacher in Detroit,” said Tate. 

Their acts of service laid the foundation for who and what he would become.

“They’re definitely two people that definitely motivate me,” Tate continued.

Tate has served his country in the Marine Corps, his teammates on the football field and his community as a lawmaker.

He is now serving Michigan’s 102nd Legislature, as the first Black speaker of the house.

When asked if his 16-year-old self would have imagined sitting in his position today, Tate replied, “Absolutely not; I was just worried about making it to class on time. This has been a dream, really.”

It’s also a full circle moment for his 100-year-old grandmother from Alabama.

“What she’s seen throughout her life, just going through Jim Crow and segregation, to where we are right now, I think it’s a proud moment for the family,” said Tate.

Tate said he “stands on the shoulders of giants,” citing there have been people before him who have been working to support Black Americans across the state of Michigan. 

“I don’t view myself as a first but certainly don’t want to be the last,” Tate said.

Tate said he wants his path to become the standard, not the exception. He hopes his presence on the house floor will speak for itself.  

“I think diversity matters,” said Tate. “Seeing people that look like you in roles, I think that’s important.”