“Whatever you want to do, if you want to be great at it, you have to love it and be able to make sacrifices for it.” – Maya Angelou-
When Kamala Harris was just an infant her parents were in Oakland advocating for civil rights, and a two-year old Harris was asked “What do you want?” “Preedom, Preedom,” she mumbled.
That story was recited by longtime Harris friend, Amelia Ashley-Ward, Publisher of The Sun Reporter, a black newspaper which covers the bay area in San Francisco and Oakland. Baby Harris was shouting about freedom way back then.
Ward first met Harris in 2001 at a women’s conference in San Francisco.
“I thought she was lively and easy to talk to. She was smart and brilliant.” Ward explained to Inglewood Today.
From that moment, Ward says the two kept in touch with each other ultimately forming a bond of friendship that would become instrumental in the journey of Harris becoming the first Black to serve as Vice President of the United States of America.
No one visualized it at the time, not even Ward, but when she staked the reputation of the family newspaper on Harris first major political bid against incumbent San Francisco Attorney General Terence Hallinan it launched this relationship into another orbit.
Hallinan had been a longtime family friend and staunch supporter of the publication.
“I had to call him and explain to him that I was supporting Harris. He said support me now and next time you can support her. But I supported Kamala Harris and that broke up a long friendship,” added Ward.
Harris got another big campaign boost from Ward when the publisher rented a cable car and loaded it with 30 of the most powerful Black women in San Francisco and Harris rode in it for four hours drumming up support from various organizations that propelled her to victory in the SF Attorney General race.
“I’ve always thought God had a little something extra for her,” said Ward.
Harris has not forgot where she came from annually calling or texting the 63-year Ward for her birthday in September.
“We’ve celebrated milestones together and mourned together. We lost our mother a year apart from each other.”
So, for Ward to see Harris breaking history barriers, she was also the first Black Attorney General of California, is a thrilling accomplishment.
“I cried when she was giving her VP speech,” cited Ward. Harris texted her moments afterward the announcement.
Ward believes that Harris is going to give the best of herself to make a great teammate for President Joe Biden.
“I knew she was going to keep climbing and I was hoping that she would become president,” concluded Ward.
Veteran political staffer Heather Hutt who served as District Director for California State Senator Isadore Hall before joining Harris United States Senator staff.
Hutt, a Los Angeles native, credits her sister Ingrid Hutt, who while servi9ng as president of the New Frontier Democratic Club introduced to her Harris, a connection that linked her to history.
Heather served on Harris United States Senate staff for four years as deputy state director and state director, respectively.
She was responsible for supervising all five district offices which included 27 employees and more significantly was the liaison between Harris and other elected officials.
“She was a Black woman with grace and pride and she had heart,” stated Heather.
Heather could not foresee Harris becoming vice president because the political climate that intensified under Donald Trump promoted white superiority and racism.
“No, I didn’t see having a Black woman anything. When we ran for president it got hard for her, but then Joe Biden restored my hope,” Hutt shared.
During the COVID pandemic, Heather remembered Harris concern for Black small businesses such as barbershops and beauty salons.
“She wanted to make sure that micro businesses were included in the Small Business Administration funding,” and it was.
So, a dozen years after the nation elected its first Black President Barack Obama it has inaugurated its first Black Vice President in Kamala Harris.
It’s a glass ceiling that few believed would ever be broken, and the woman whose mother challenged to be whatever she wanted to be is a pioneer.
America has come a long way from when Rosa Parks rejected bus driver James F. Blake’s order on December 1, 1955 in Montgomery, Alabama to January 20, 2021 when Kamala Harris placed her hand on Thurgood Marshall’s bible to become the first Black woman and first person of color to serve as vice president.
A graduate of Howard University not far from 1600 Pennsylvania Ave., the daughter of an Indian mother Shyamala Gopalan Harris and Jamaican father Donald Harris, Kamala Harris is clothed in a unique brand dignity and represents the culture of every Black American.
A loyal friend to Amelia Ashley-Ward and a guiding boss for Heather Hutt. A committed sorority sister in Alpha Kappa Alpha, a doting loving sister to lawyer Maya Harris and a caring aunt to Meena Harris, also a lawyer.
We also know that Kamala is a devoted wife to lawyer Doug Emhoff and Mamala to his two adoring children.
Now, she is our Madam Vice President, one step from the presidency.