Sun | Mar 7, 2021

Harris draws tears in dad’s hometown

Published:Thursday | January 21, 2021 | 12:10 AMCarl Gilchrist/Gleaner Writer
In this April 1965 photo, Donald Harris holds his daughter, Kamala.
In this April 1965 photo, Donald Harris holds his daughter, Kamala.

Tears rolled down the face of Norma Walters as she watched her former schoolmate’s daughter being sworn in on Wednesday as vice-president of the United States.

Walters, who attended school alongside Donald Harris decades ago in the northern Jamaica community of Brown’s Town, St Ann, was emotional even though she has never met Kamala Harris.

Sentiment began to get the better of her from Tuesday night during a US memorial for the more than 400,000 Americans who have died from the coronavirus.

“It was a very touching ceremony that really touched me. It brought me to tears,” Walters said.

“And when I saw them coming in, the same thing happened, full of emotion, because I admire Joe Biden,” the educator said of the new president’s inauguration on Wednesday.

Walters said she was impressed by the rhetorical cogency and composure of Kamala Harris and Biden in the political debates in the Democratic presidential race.

Though Harris is estranged from her father and noticeably did not mention him in her victory speech last November, Walters said the former US senator “belongs to us”.

“The name Harris is a very popular name around here, and I am so proud to know that somebody who had Jamaican roots, however tentative, has reached that particular position,” Walters told The Gleaner.

Vana Taylor, president of the St Ann Chamber of Commerce, described Wednesday’s inauguration ceremony in Washington as “very touching and moving and certainly historic” as Harris became the first woman to be come vice president of the US.

“It was really fantastic and awesome and touching, and I think it was great for all the women in the world,” she told The Gleaner.

Taylor, who is also area chairman of the Jamaica Hotel and Tourist Association Ocho Rios Runaway Bay Chapter, said that she would lobby for Harris to visit the parish of her roots.

“We would love to invite her to vacation in St Ann,” said Taylor, a few hours after being glued to a television watching the ceremony.

Taylor said that despite the logistical challenges, she and her team at the St Ann Chamber would push to make a Harris visit a reality.