A Chat With Author Sharon Tubbs “They Got Daddy- One Family’s Reckoning with Racism and Faith”
Fort Wayne Ink Spot | By Tabitha Ervin, Editorial Director
I learned so much in this conversation that I first want to share my own thoughts. Have you ever wondered who you are, I mean before you were even a thought? Let’s say 80-100 years ago or more. Who was your family, where were they from? As I learned about Sharon’s book, “They Got Daddy”, and what led her to write it, it made me ask questions about my own background and history.
My oldest living relatives, a great aunt (Aunt Dean) and 2 great uncles (Uncle June, Aunt Dean’s husband and Uncle Frank, Aunt Dean’s brother) are all in their 80’s but other than them many have passed on. Additionally, I never met either of my grandfathers. My dad wasn’t connected to his father at all and my moms father passed away when she was young. Both my grandmothers were in their 70s when they passed and my maternal grandmother lived with us for a bit when I was around middle school age. But before them, my mom and dad could only tell me stories of other relatives. Beyond that, there are pictures as well as my mom has been quite the historian on both sides of my family history. One year on a visit to North Carolina to see my dads family I made a family tree on a poster board back at least 2-3 generations ago.
I am thankful to have known and spent precious time with both my grandmothers and I am blessed that my mom and my relatives on my dad’s side can still share those valuable details.
My Great Uncle June tells wonderful stories of his past and how he and my Great Aunt ended up in Michigan from the South with a stop in Ohio before making Michigan home which is also how my dad ended up in Michigan; he moved with them to work at GM. I think I’ll record him next time I’m home!
This is my reflection after a wonderful conversation with Sharon about her new family memoir.
Sharon is not only the Executive Director of HealthVisions Midwest of Fort Wayne but an accomplished author having written several books nonfiction and fiction. This is her first memoir. She majored in Journalism for her Bachelors degree and has always wanted to be a writer.
Ervin: Thanks for your time today! So what led you to tell your grandfather’s story and why were you interested?
Tubbs: My grandfather was a Pastor, a well driller and a sharecropper. He was in a car accident in which he injured his arm and was not able to work as much to support the family. There was a whole story behind it that I was not aware of with him being kidnapped and also filing a lawsuit with the courts. As a child, my mother and I were watching tv together and the story on the news was about the Klu Klux Klan. At my age, living here in Fort Wayne, it didn’t seem to make sense that a rally was happening in Indiana. This was in the 80s. While I was asking my mom about the news she mentioned, “they got daddy” and some small details on what she meant but not much. That began my lifelong journey of discovering what happened to my grandfather who passed a few years after my mom mentioned that.
Ervin: So you were a child when that initial interaction with your mother happened and fast forward to now you did the research and wrote a book about it… That’s incredible!
Tubbs: It just kept coming back to me, from middle school to college and beyond especially during my career as a journalist. I finally started to research in 2005 when an uncle of mine mentioned a lawyer and a court case which to that point I had not been told about. This began my journey of discovering the incredible history and boldness of my grandfather during that time but also the sadness and trauma he and my family experienced.
Ervin: I did just get my book and started reading it now so I am excited to dive into this story! I’m intrigued by the parallels in each chapter from then to now and your reflections.
Tubbs: As I was researching it brought up various experiences that I’ve had as a black woman and as a journalist. It made me realize that the times then aren’t as far off from the current times as we think they may be and I wanted to show that through my writing. It also made me think about cultural trauma and how that impacts people and they don’t even know it.
Ervin: I am personally excited about the impact this book can have on people telling and discovering their family stories even through the pain of what may have happened. Thank you for your research and thank you for sharing it with us! I encourage everyone to get this book!