Kamala Harris's Oakland Childhood Friend Speaks Out Ahead of Inauguration

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On Wednesday, Oakland native Kamala Harris will be sworn in as America’s first female vice president, and her longtime friend from Oakland will be there, invited as her guest.

Derreck Johnson and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris have been friends for 40 years. Johnson said that just about a week ago, Harris invited him to be a guest at her inauguration ceremony Wednesday.

So, he boarded a government plane with about 20 other of Harris’s Bay Area friends and flew to Washington D.C.

“I’m ecstatic,” he said. “I’m very excited. I feel very proud of her. It’s very emotional, it really sunk in yesterday when I rode in a motorcade.”

Johnson said he first met Harris in Oakland when they were 16. They call each other “cousin,” and he said that even now after being elected vice president, she remains a loyal friend.

“The 16-year-old Kamala is the same person she is today, she loves to laugh, she’s always been fun and she’s still fun,” Johnson said.

Johnson said security in D.C. is tight, and he has not been given many details about the inauguration. But despite recent violence, he’s not concerned about his safety or worried protesters will overshadow Harris’s big day.

Johnson, founder of the Home of Chicken and Waffles in Oakland, also wants to make sure people know Harris has Bay Area roots, so he had an artist paint a mural of Harris in his restaurant. But that’s not all.

“We created the Kamala,” he said. “It’s collard green lasagna.”

Johnson said he is confident Harris will lead with fairness and integrity, and while he still can’t quite get used to calling his friend madam vice president, he said he’s honored she invited him to be in the crowd when she makes history.

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