James Madison Fellow, Michael Tubbs, recently featured with MAP on the Political Panel at the Millennial Impact Conference (MCON14), is one of the youngest city council members in Stockton, California’s history. Tubbs’ campaign rallied hundreds of young Stockton residents between the ages of 14 and 21 and earned him more than 60% of the vote. Elected in 2012 at the age of 22, he is one of only three political candidates ever to receive a campaign donation from Oprah Winfrey.
After leaving his hometown to pursue a degree in policy, organization and leadership studies from Stanford University, he interned with Google and at the White House. Born to a mother still in high school and a father in a juvenile detention center, Tubbs returned to Stockton to enter politics and bring change to the issues he and his peers had faced growing up as one of few from his neighborhood with a college degree.
“During my internship, my cousin was murdered in Stockton, one of 50 homicides that year,” Tubbs wrote on the Daily Beast. “In the midst of grieving, I began to feel that I had a special responsibility to use the resources I had been given to make the world a better place, although in which capacity was still unclear. It wasn’t until a year later that I achieved clarity when I decided to run for city council in Stockton — with no money or political experience. The impetus behind this decision was a desire to change the odds for children like my cousin and me.”
As Councilman, Tubbs founded The Phoenix Scholars and the Summer Success and Leadership Academy at the University of the Pacific. The Leadership Academy seeks to give high schoolers in Stockton the resources, skills, and networking opportunities to create positive change. The one week summer program requires students to design a community action plan that they will then implement the following year. Tubbs discusses the program in an inspiring and passionate speech at TEDx San Joaquin, drawing personal illustration to the lack of equal opportunity and mobility in struggling districts such as Stockton.
Tubbs has been honored as one of Black Enterprise’s Top 4 Power Players Under 40, The Root’s Top 25 Under 25, and one of Reader Digest’s 50 things to love about America.
“The problems that loom ahead for our generation” Tubbs says “such as education reform, the criminal justice system, or widening social inequality, are going to require creativity and out of the box thinking; traits that millennial[s] have in abundance. There is no greater challenge to test one’s intelligence and mettle than the American city. And there is no greater opportunity for scalable impact than at the local level.”