Cover Image: Friends from the Beginning

Friends from the Beginning

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Member Reviews

No one knows you like a childhood best friend. Vice President Kamala Harris’ bestie Stacey Johnson-Batiste has written a candid tribute to her friend that traces the origins and evolution of two women and a friendship still going strong after five decades.

Now, politicians are no strangers to scrutiny, and Black women in the public eye arguably get far more than their fair share. The 2020 election proved that Harris is no exception. She hasn’t had an easy time in the press and with some members of the Black communities who have questioned her roots, her values, and her commitment alongside her record.

Johnson-Batiste’s book, Friends from the Beginning: The Berkeley Village That Raised Kamala and Me, provides what almost no one else can: the inside perspective from someone who knew her from the beginning.

The story begins in Berkeley, California. Stacey Johnson met Kamala Harris when she was 5 years old and the woman who would break barriers to become America’s first woman, first Black, and first Asian vice president was only four, just on the cusp of turning five. The girls met through their mothers and then attended a progressive, multiracial kindergarten together, Berkwood Hedge School, where both thrived. A sense of community, caring, and love was cultivated in them in their Berkeley days. It pervades this book, which is in large parts a heartfelt testament to the importance and sustaining power of friendship.

Beyond that, the thing that may surprise skeptics is that with this vice president, what you see is what you get. This is the book’s most prominent theme: Kamala Harris is who she always has been. Feisty debate stage Kamala is the Kamala that showed up in kindergarten. In fact, that continuity of character and spirit is what inspired the book, which is organized around the twelve core values that shaped both Kamala and Stacey as girls and remain with them to this day.
---- Full review and interview at theGrio:

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I was very interested to read this title to get a more personal look into VP Kamala Harris.Sometimes our close friends/family know us better than ourselves so that made a really interesting read to hear from the perspective of one of her closest friends.
A vivid, intimate portrait of the friendship forged between Stacey Johnson Batiste and her childhood best friend, Vice President Kamala Harris—and of the community in which they were raised, and the lessons offered by those they loved and admired from childhood, through their teenage years, and up to the present day.

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