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The Deeper the Roots: A Memoir of Hope and Home

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The making of a visionary political leader—and a blueprint for a more equitable country.

“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.


“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.

ISBN-13: 9781250173461

Media Type: Paperback

Publisher: Flatiron Books

Publication Date: 11-15-2022

Pages: 288

Product Dimensions: 5.10(w) x 7.90(h) x 0.80(d)

Michael Tubbs served as the seventy-ninth mayor of Stockton, CA, his hometown. He was the city’s first Black mayor and the youngest ever mayor of a major American city. He is the founder of Mayors for a Guaranteed Income and a Special Advisor to California Governor Newsom on Economic Mobility. Tubbs has been a fellow at the Harvard Institute of Politics, the MIT Media Lab, and the Stanford Design School. He has also served as a Stockton city councilmember and a high school educator. He lives with his partner, Anna Malakai Tubbs, and their children.

Table of Contents

Introduction 1

1 She-daddy's Son 5

2 All Eyes on Me 23

3 School Daze 35

4 Dreams 51

5 Hustle and Motivate 71

6 Boy Meets World 85

7 Can I Live? 103

8 Rejection and Redirection 115

9 Sprint 127

10 Victory tap 147

11 Roses from Concrete 161

12 Upset the Setup 177

13 Keys to the City 191

14 Jericho Road 215

Epilogue: God's Plan 245

Acknowledgments 255