Selected as a Best Nonfiction Book of the Year 2021 by Bookshop staff:
Michael Tubbs’s memoir is absolutely engrossing and inspiring. From an intelligent, capable, but frequently underestimated Black child, to Stanford and international experiences, to being elected Stockton’s first Black mayor (and youngest ever mayor of a city with a population over 100,000) in 2016, Tubbs’ thoughtful reflection ties his life into our systemic patterns and problems, while proving there is action and hope for even the darkest moments. I closed this galvanized, knowing I, too, can do more in and for the world around me.
“Insightful, emotional, and enraging. By sharing his story in gripping detail, Michael Tubbs embodies an old feminist tradition whereby the personal is political. He empowers us to fight for equal opportunities for our communities, and encourages us to amass the courage to overcome loss and injustice.” —Ibram X. Kendi, National Book Award-winning author of Stamped from
the Beginning and How to Be an Antiracist
The making of a visionary political leader—and a blueprint for a more equitable country
“Don’t tell nobody our business,” Michael Tubbs’s mother often told him growing up. For Michael, that meant a lot of things: don’t tell anyone about the day-to-day struggle of being Black and broke in Stockton, CA. Don’t tell anyone the pain of having a father incarcerated for 25 years to life. Don’t tell anyone about living two lives, the brainy bookworm and the kid with the newest Jordans. And also don’t tell anyone about the particular joys of growing up with three “moms”—a Nana who never let him miss church, an Auntie who’d take him to the library any time, and a mother, “She-Daddy”, who schooled him in the wisdom of hip-hop and taught him never to take no for an answer.
So for a long time Michael didn’t tell anyone his story, but as he went on to a scholarship at Stanford and an internship in the Obama White House, he began to realize the power of his experience, the need for his perspective in the halls of power. By the time he returned to Stockton to become, in 2016 at age 26, its first Black mayor and the youngest-ever mayor of a major American city, he knew his story meant something.
The Deeper the Roots is a memoir astonishing in its candor, voice, and clarity of vision. Tubbs shares with us the city that raised him, his family of badass women, his life-changing encounters with Oprah Winfrey and Barack Obama, the challenges of governing in the 21st century and everything in between—en route to unveiling his compelling vision for America rooted in his experiences in his hometown.
Praise for The Deeper the Roots
“Insightful, emotional, and enraging. By sharing his story in gripping detail, Michael Tubbs embodies an old feminist tradition whereby the personal is political. He empowers us to fight for equal opportunities for our communities, and encourages us to amass the courage to overcome loss and injustice.” —Ibram X. Kendi, National Book Award-winning author of Stamped from the Beginning and How to Be an Antiracist
"Hugely inspiring and important...The Deeper the Roots is a book not to be missed if we wish to understand how we might survive childhoods of missing fathers, inadequate home security, and endemic racism. It is a book of hope, because we recognize Tubbs as one of us who refused to bow to diminishment, whether from racist outside forces or inner demons of self doubt. Tubbs' book, and his life, exemplify Leonard Cohen’s wonderful line in 'The Future': 'Love’s the only engine of survival.'” —Alice Walker, author of The Color Purple
“The Deeper the Roots shows a brilliant young leader coming into his own, not by leaving behind the experiences that shaped him but by investing his gifts exactly where they’re needed: home. Tubbs is a great storyteller and represents what we need in politics: service rooted in possibility and love for all people. His memoir was a joy and a revelation to read.” —Valerie Jarrett, President Obama Foundation
“This beautifully-written memoir is the story of one of the most extraordinary leaders of a generation. It also illustrates the ability of any life to make a contribution to our American journey. Read this to understand how our paths are completely intertwined and how finding beauty and joy in all lives is powerfully imperative.” —Wes Moore, author of The Work and The Other Wes Moore
“The gripping story of how Michael Tubbs persevered against poverty and racism to become the youngest mayor—and the first Black mayor—of Stockton. It’s a moving look behind the scenes at how we can find personal strength while fighting for systemic change.” —Adam Grant, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Think Again and host of the TED podcast “WorkLife”
“I feel like I made a new friend. This book makes it a pleasure to get to know Michael Tubbs. I happily suggest you do. His story is relatable and dazzling at the same time. He describes his life in a way that is a kind of guide for living in itself. Detailed stories of relationships and perseverance that walk the reader through the mind and the spirit of someone navigating through a life filled with small victories and big ideas. Come for the humor and candor, stay for the path to change society.” —Kathy Griffin
“Michael Tubbs is a rare example of how much you can do for a community with resilience and dedication, and a reminder of the importance of giving back to the places that created us.” —Sam Altman, President, Y Combinator
“Michael Tubbs is an extraordinary example of a new generation of servant-leaders who have inspired me and give great hope for our nation’s future. The Deeper the Roots is a powerful exploration of the people and systems that shaped him and his vision for creating communities to give all children an equal chance to reach their full potential. Read it and be inspired.” —Marian Wright Edelman, Founder and President Emerita, Children’s Defense Fund