Watch: HBO Profiles Stockton Mayor Tubbs in New Documentary "Stockton on My Mind"
Near the tail end of "Stockton on My Mind", Mayor Michael Tubbs addresses a graduating class of high school seniors and explores a favorite quote, "They tried to bury us, they didn't know we were seeds". It's a meta theme of the new HBO documentary, premiered this week. Tubbs is talking about his own rise from Stockton's neighborhoods, born to a teen mother and with a father incarcerated since his early childhood, and how his story is reflected in the students he's cheering on. It could well also apply to Stockton itself. A City that led the nation in foreclosures after the housing bust a decade ago, the largest American city to go bankrupt, plagued by violent crime. Indeed as described int he film, "one of the poorest, most violent, least literate cities in the nation."
Tubbs' story as told in the film is one of deep, unwavering commitment to his community and his city, a righteous quest to restore its promise and lift his neighbors -- now his constituents.
Truly, this is a film about a visionary young Mayor, but also about the real work of rebuilding a community by its city government. Early parts of the film treat Tubbs' election and the national attention garnered by his youth and his profile as an African American, a Stanford grad and an "against the odds" success story. As the story unfolds those "newsy" elements do fade as we meet students, teachers and community leaders working alongside Tubbs to try whatever they can to improve the odds for themselves and address the still rampant poverty and homelessness across the city. There are extensive portions of the film focused on Tubbs' father, and interviews with him still incarcerated for a robbery committed in the 1990s. We also meet Tubbs Sr's former cellmate, now an outreach worker for one of Mayor Tubbs' signature youth programs.
There is of course an extensive focus on the Universal Basic Income experiment in Stockon, along with the city's effort to create a "promise" program for its youth similar to those in Oakland, Long Beach and elsewhere.
Stockton on My Mind premiered on HBO this week, it looks like you can stream it for free on HBO's website here if you're not a subscriber.