“I believe it’s in my bloodline,” she says.
Stubbs’ mother has been an activist in the community for over 50 years and Stubbs saw her mom build relationships with the government. She saw that when the government made policies that the community didn’t agree with, her mother would say, “We’re still friends, but your policy, I don’t agree with.”
Her uncle Walter Knight was on the Beloit city council, president of the police and fire commission, and very well respected by the community. Stubbs watched him as an elected official and says that inspired her to know that she could do it.
Following in their footsteps, Stubbs now serves on the Dane County Board of Supervisors. Out of the 37 members, Shelia Stubbs is the only minority on the board and hopes to be an advocate for minority groups, especially those who are not represented on the board.
“I think I have to this day remain true to always try to bring awareness to communities that aren’t included in the room; that’s the Latino community, the Hmong community. So that’s what i’ve always tried to do; to make sure that the awareness was there, the inclusion and the input,” says Stubbs. “Being a person of color, it was expected that I would always have a different view point that maybe (others) never thought about, about that communities of color would be a resource, I would be the one in the room to bring in that a-ha, ‘did you reach out to this community?’ and I think my colleagues respected that from me.”
Stubbs was born in Camden, Arkansas and lived there until the age of five. She then moved to Beloit and stayed there until she finished high school. After graduation from Beloit Memorial High School, Stubbs attended Tougaloo College in Mississippi, where she studied to become a pediatrician since she always wanted to become a doctor and Tougaloo is known for graduating black doctors and lawyers. During her second year in college, she decided she wanted to be a lawyer and graduated from Tougaloo in 1993.
Stubbs is very family-oriented and religious. She is married to Pastor Bishop Godfrey Stubbs. She has one daughter, Aquila, who’s seven years old, and five step children who live in the Bahamas. Her daughter follows her along to her community meetings and she even hopes for her daughter to become a leader herself. Aquila so far has wanted to be a teacher, firefighter, pastor, and artist, and the list changes every year.
Sometimes Stubbs feels like she’s respected for her opinions and a lot of her colleagues even look up to her for an opinion, but she still feels excluded and disrespected at times. One example she gives is the recent effort to rename the City County Building, which houses the County Jail, after President Barack Obama. Proponents of that idea never informed her about their plans or consulted her, which made Stubbs feel very disrespected.
Even with the situation, Stubbs believes it’s a blessing that she was given the “opportunity to give the one voice or the one vote on an issue.”
Stubbs is very involved in the community and even founded the Women of Excellence Ministries and co-founded the End Time Ministries International Church, with her husband. She is also the president of the National Association of the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) in Madison, the youth advisor for the Madison Youth Council of the NAACP, which she was one of the first to council, and the president of Bridge Lake Point Neighborhood Association. She is a lead supporters addressing racial disparities initiatives in Dane County.
Stubbs always recites the poem by Benjamin E. Mays called “God’s Minute,” which goes “I have just one minute Only sixty seconds in it, Forced upon me—can’t refuse it Didn’t seek it, didn’t choose it, But it’s up to me to use it. I must suffer if I lose it, Give account if I abuse it. Just a tiny little minute— But eternity is in it.” Stubbs said the poem has taught her that time is very important, and once it passes, you can’t get it back.
This profile was produced by a student journalist in the Madison365 Academy. To learn more and to support our educational programs, visit madison365.org/academy.