(KTXL) — As Kamala Harris became the 49th vice president of the United States, her childhood friend Carole Porter watched from her Bay Area home, thinking about the days when the two rode the bus together to an integrated elementary school in Berkeley.
“I remember playing after school. I remember Mrs. Shelton’s day care where we would often go after school and gather with friends,” Porter said.
She described Harris as a child being very kind, smart and studious.
“She did have a leadership and a confidence spirit about her,” Porter told FOX40.
Porter said there is a misconception about Harris that she grew up wealthy because her mother was a cancer research scientist.
“And that’s so far from the truth. Researchers, as most researchers probably know, don’t make a lot of money,” Porter said.
Harris’ late mother, an immigrant from India, had a hard time moving up the ladder at the University of California, Berkeley, Porter said.
“In fact, one of the reasons she left and went to Canada was because she wasn’t getting promoted and had pushed back,” Porter said. “So, really showing her daughters to stand up for themselves.”
Harris’ parents divorced when she was 7.
“Kamala and Maya were raised in a two-bedroom, one-bath apartment on the top of a day care center in a red-lined, West Berkeley flatland neighborhood that was economically challenged,” Porter said. “There were families there that were middle class that were working and doing OK. But there was often a lot of strife.”
Porter says Harris’ upbringing gives her an insight into issues most Americans face.
“So, Kamala really understands the plight of most American people because she’s lived there,” Porter said. “When she has a seat at the table, she has a seat at the table with all of us with her. She understands our issues.”
Porter said Harris also mentored kids in her community when she was younger.
“She’s lifted all of these young women and young women of color up with her, and just really shown that the sky is the limit,” Porter said. “You can do whatever you want if you want to put the hard work into it.”