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Motlow State Community College
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Motlow College instructor's first book published

Common Threads: My Family's Journey from Slave Owner to Abolitionist by Ben Jobe Available this Summer

May 13, 2013

Ben Jobe, a member of the adjunct faculty at Motlow College, tells the fascinating story of a friendship born from misdirected telephone calls and a shared history in his first book, Common Threads: My Family's Journey from Slave Owner to Abolitionist, published by Create Space. The book will be available this summer on the Amazon and Create Space websites in the U.S., United Kingdom, France, Germany, Italy and Spain, and at Barnes & Noble and other bookstores.

Ben Jobe, at left, is pictured with Coach Ben Jobe at the Sam Davis Home in Smyrna. Coach Jobe's grandfather was owned as a slave by Ben's great-great-grandfather, Elihu Coleman Jobe. Ben tells the story, and many others, in his first book, Common Threads: My Family's Journey from Slave Owner to Abolitionist, which will be released this summer. Ben teaches music at Motlow College Smyrna Center, and Coach Jobe is a well-known former basketball coach and current talent scout for the New York Knicks. Photo by John Moore.
The first time someone called his home and asked for Coach Ben Jobe was in 1969. The calls for the coach continued over the years until April of 2008, when Ben answered two calls in the same day. The callers were former players of the famous coach, and Ben told one of them to ask the coach to call him, which the coach did. The two Ben Jobes met that same evening and have formed a friendship during many subsequent meetings.

The Ben Jobes have discovered they are "brothers" in some regards. They share similar character traits and a family connection dating back to the days of slavery. They both love to teach. They both love learning. One, however, is the descendant of a slave, and the other is the descendant of the slave owner.

Coach Jobe's grandfather Scott Jobe and Scott's brother, Frank, were slaves owned by Elihu Coleman Jobe, a farmer and furniture maker in Rutherford County. Elihu Jobe was Ben's great-great-grandfather.

"Some might question how the descendant of a slave owner and the descendant of one of his slaves might have any basis for friendship," Ben states in the forward to his book. "For me, it's not that hard to figure out. Coach Ben and I share a common heritage, a 'common thread.' We believe it is a story worth telling."

Coach Jobe, called "an icon in the history of basketball at historically black colleges and universities," coached at several universities, including Southern University, and is a talent scout for the New York Knicks. The Ben Jobe Award was established in his honor and is given each year to the top minority coach in Division I men's basketball.

Ben is a volunteer with End Slavery Tennessee, which fights to end contemporary slavery, and calls himself a "modern-day abolitionist." He teaches music appreciation at Motlow College Smyrna Center. Common Threads tells the story of five generations of his family, from Revolutionary War veteran James Jobe's move from Virginia to Tennessee to today.

Topics include "Music and Words," "Saving Howard & Jobe," "A Time to Kill and a Time to Heal," and "The Horrible Cost of Courage," which tells the story of DeWitt Smith Jobe, Ben's great-grandfather's brother. DeWitt, a Confederate spy, was captured and tortured to death near Nolensville in August of 1864. Slaves Scott and Frank Jobe built DeWitt's coffin.

"I think our family was typical of millions of others in the South, black and white, who shared a simple, decent desire to get along with each other despite the barriers imposed by segregation," Ben states in his book's prologue.

He invites readers to join him on the journey through his family's history, and promises, "I will do my best to make the trip worthwhile, and I will show you 'common' threads" that connect it all."

"Sometimes we get emotional when talking about this," the coach said in a previous article in The Insider Newsletter. "We realize that we're living the dream of Dr. [Martin Luther] King. Ben and I have lived his dream."

Ben agrees, and ends Common Threads with the prophetic words of the civil rights leader, who said in a speech nearly 50 years ago, "I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave-owners will be able to sit down together at a table of brotherhood."

-Martin Luther King, Jr.
Washington, D.C.
August 28, 1963