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How Kamala Harris' Father's Jamaican Hometown Is Celebrating

LEILA FADEL, HOST:

The reaction to Senator Harris' selection as Vice President Biden's running mate has been felt not just in the United States but also in Jamaica, where her father grew up. We called up a few people from Brown's Town, Jamaica, to hear what they had to say.

KARLENE SEGREE: We were in a meeting when I saw it on Twitter, and I showed it to my boss. I said, Kamala was selected. Kamala was selected (laughter). We were so excited about it. My cousin - he too was so excited he sent me a message of Kamala sitting in a chair. He's, like, is that one of those GIFs? And he sent me her sitting in a chair dancing.

FADEL: That's Karlene Segree. She grew up in Brown's Town and now works as a school inspector for the Ministry of Education. She also manages a hotel.

SEGREE: For us, just to hear about her father is from Jamaica - that was deep for me, knowing that our Jamaican could reach somewhere so big on the international scene.

FADEL: While she doesn't know Senator Harris herself, she does know the family.

SEGREE: Oh, we know them. Yeah because, you know, it's a good family.

FADEL: Latoya is a member of the Harris family in Jamaica.

LATOYA HARRIS: We share relatives, meaning her grandfather and my grandfather are brothers. So I guess that makes us second cousins.

FADEL: Latoya Harris lives in the capital, Kingston, but grew up in Brown's Town. She describes it as a tight-knit community with several universities and a busy market. And she says despite the buzz in the media and on Twitter about Kamala Harris, in their family, success is just par for the course.

HARRIS: You know, there's a certain level of expectancy in our family for us to excel at whatever we do. So it's great when somebody really excels, like what she has done. And everybody is really proud of that. But it's not like a subject conversation at the family table all the time.

FADEL: Still, she says...

HARRIS: For Jamaica, it's big because really and truly, Jamaica is a - and I'll quote Kamala. She said it was a big country on a small island. And she is correct. You know, Jamaica, for the size it is, we have achieved so much. And I think it's good for Jamaica to show that very good things come out of our country. You know, and it's not just Bob Marley.

FADEL: And so, till November, they'll be watching Harris from the sidelines.

HARRIS: I've seen people say, hey, I knew her father, so therefore I know her (laughter). So, you know, as I said, Jamaicans just embrace people from the soil. And you cannot ask for a better cheering squad than the Jamaicans.

FADEL: That was Latoya Harris, a member of Kamala Harris' extended family in Jamaica. And we also heard from Karlene Segree, who was born and raised in Brown's Town in Jamaica.

(SOUNDBITE OF BENNY SINGS' "PASSIONFRUIT") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.