Tyrell's daddy drove a truck for a Chicago meat company; his mamma cleaned bathrooms for a private school on the South Shore. That last bit meant that Tyrell and his two younger sisters got to attend the rich white folks' academy for free, and it was there that Tyrell first really learned what racism looked like. It wasn't the last, though, and even while he was dealing with teachers and students in the school sneering at him or asking why he thought he was good enough to go to school there when his mother was cleaning the toilets, back in his neighborhood the kids started in on him about why he talked white and was putting on airs. Tyrell took it all as best as he could, but he felt the rage well up inside him, and he had to push it down harder and harder every time.
Tyrell's daddy was a union man through and through. "Wasn't until we marched in '63 that we got anything," he used to tell his son. "Same thing now: we gotta strike or they won't listen." Not that the Chicago unions weren't racist - they were, with a lot of the white teamsters blaming the blacks and Latinos for moving North and driving down wages - but Mr Barker believed. "We go it alone, we get nothing. We go in strength, they pay attention. They'll bring the hoses, the dogs, whatever, but they will pay attention - and that means we'll win." When his daddy went on strike, Tyrell went with him to walk the line, and though there weren't hoses or dogs, there were cops who were arresting anyone for any reason, scabs throwing rotten fruit, and cars driving by shouting every word they could think of to describe black men like Tyrell and his daddy. Tyrell's daddy spent a week in jail, though he was never charged and should have been out in 24 hours. The rage burned higher.
Thanks to a scholarship, Tyrell was the first member of his family to go to college, and he graduated from the UChicago Law School in 1987. He was smart, well-dressed, a powerful and persuasive speaker, and he got offers from law firms - fast track to partner! - from several firms, especially liberal ones on the coasts, but Tyrell turned them all down. He knew that, if a man like him had been around, his daddy would never have stayed in jail a week longer than he should have. If a man like him had been around, there'd have been a voice for the colored truckers at the bargaining table when the union finally went back and knuckled under to the trucking companies. If a man like him had been around... well. From now on, a man like him was going to be around. Period. And the rage... the rage would keep him focused. Keep him pure. He wouldn't need a nine mil or a length of chain to take on the Man. Because when you nail him in the courts, it sticks. They pay attention. And like his daddy said, that's when you win.
Tyrell's work for the Unions caught the attention of many a corporation on the losing side of type cases he took. It also caught the attention of one Jeremy MacNeil.
In 1989 Tyrell was asked to fly out to LA to consult for a possible Longshoreman strike. Jeremy was as impressed with Tyrell if not more so than he was told he would be.
Jeremy offered Tyrell the chance to take the fight to justice "to the next level." Skeptical Tyrell agreed and received the Embrace.
Jeremy taught Tyrell all he knew for the next six months before sending him to Gary, Indiana to assist in rebuilding the unions there. "While Lodin is the enemy, beware of Modius. Juggler will be your contact you can go to him if you need aid but never, ever reveal your Haven to anyone!"
Although Tyrell would prefer to be across the state line and closer to his living family, he recognizes the potential in Gary -
and the dangers of Chicago. He needs a powerbase first, and then he can look to take on the corrupt Ventrue in the city. The workers of Gary have a new champion, and Tyrell has a new target.