Kamala Harris Family Tree

It’s often said among genealogists that the best way to get your family tree researched for free is to run for office. Indeed, that seems to be true. For instance, take the case of Kamala Harris.

Presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden announced on Tuesday that Sen. Kamala Harris would be his vice-presidential running mate. Even before the official announcement of her candidacy for Vice-President of the United States, her ancestry had been posted in a video on YouTube.

The 55-year-old former California attorney general will be the first Black woman to be nominated by either major party for vice president. While Harris lists her own ancestry as Black and she does live in the U.S., it is interesting to note that she apparently has no known ancestors who who were enslaved. The video at https://youtu.be/8qF-IvSqxdE details Harris’ Tamil (a region in southern India) and Jamaican ancestry.

While most people in the U.S. who are the product of mixed-race ancestry and may have only 50% Black ancestry, most of those people consider themselves to be Black. For example, the same is true of Barack Obama.

In addition, Wikipedia at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kamala_Harris provides a brief report of her parents but does not list earlier generations:

“Kamala Devi Harris was born on October 20, 1964, in Oakland, California. Her mother, Shyamala Gopalan, was a breast cancer scientist who had emigrated from Tamil Nadu, India, in 1960 to pursue a doctorate in endocrinology at UC Berkeley. Her father, Donald J. Harris, is a Stanford University emeritus professor of economics, who emigrated from British Jamaica in 1961 for graduate study in economics at UC Berkeley. Her mother’s family is of Brahmin lineage.”

OK, let’s everyone run for public office and therefore encourage others to research our family trees for us for free!

Comment by Dick Eastman: Comments about the accuracy or details of the family tree of Kamala Harris are welcomed. However, any comments about politics will immediately be deleted. This newsletter is proud to be a genealogy-related service but it is not a political forum. There are many other political blogs and websites and this genealogy blog cannot compete with the political services. I suggest you post political comments only on political websites.

32 Comments

As Kamala Harris’s ancestry is not from the US she has no forebears enslaved in the US. Her ancestors may have been enslaved in Jamaica though.

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Kamala Harris’s father has an article at Wikipedia which lists his parents. “ Harris was born in Saint Ann’s Bay, Jamaica, as the son of Beryl Finnegan and Oscar Joseph Harris.[2] He grew up in the Orange Hill area of Saint Ann Parish, near Brown’s Town.[3][4] Harris claims to be descended from slaveowner Hamilton Brown, the namesake of Brown’s Town, a claim Snopes rated as unproven.[5] “ https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Donald_J._Harris “ It also notes a not proven claim that the Harris family descend from a notable slave owner. Snopes rates this claim as unproven and notes it is possible the Harris family have enslaved forebears. https://www.snopes.com/fact-check/kamala-harris-ancestor-slaves/ The citation for the parents of Donald J Harris is from a book by Kamala Harris.

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You say “she apparently has no ancestors who who were enslaved”. How do you think those black Jamaican ancestors came to Jamaica?

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Would love to see what the “Finding Your Roots” team could discover about her family history. In some parts of India (also in China) there are generations of professional scribes who have maintained family registers that go back centuries. Jamaica also has a lot of fascinating genealogical history with often surprising interracial connections.

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Has anyone did DNA tests on Ms. Harris to confirm her or her father’s claims? I would like to see the DNA results.

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    What regulation requires DNA testing? Look at all the trees online with ridiculous and biologically impossible claims; *they’re* not tested. Perhaps if the credibility of genealogical assertions of all types required scientific verification the situation would be different.

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I’m so sure that she has more Nigerian blood than and she knows! Harris is a very high slave name! She hasn’t take a DNA test and that I know for sure.

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There’s an interesting article by Andrew J. Sciascia online from “The Western Journal,” published August 12, 2020. Not sure if it is considered political or not but does give more information than anything else on her background that I have read thus far.

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We no longer have Wm Reitsweiner to do research.

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    Christine Czarnecki August 17, 2020 at 10:17 pm

    He is greatly missed, and his work is a testament to his exacting genealogies and step by step proofs through the generations..

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She is NOT black but a woman of color. Jamaican and Indian don’t make black.

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I am sure someone somewhere is diligently working on Kamala Harris’ ancestry. When President Obama was elected I was contacted by Who Do You Think You Are? to help research his Irish ancestry in Ohio.

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Why Lord why? We do know that she is not Anglo Saxon, Swedish, Nordic, Norwegian etc. In this the US of A, any drop of black blood makes one black. If one is white and Chinese or white and Japanese, white and anything but African American or any black race you can be white and identify with either race. If one is black and any race you are black period. She recognizes that just as President Obama did. Tiger Woods tried for years to identify as Indonesian. Bc he is Blendonesian every one who discussed publicly or in private spoke of him as a black gold champion.
People please leave this alone and access her by the content of her character.

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    I agree completely with your last sentence, but have to correct you about Tiger. His mother was Thai.

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    David Paul Davenport August 15, 2020 at 11:24 pm

    Sharon: You wrote ” In this the US of A, any drop of black blood makes one black.” Maybe so, but it was only about 35 years ago that Louisiana changed its laws to allow people when they marry to choose their race. Previously the law required than anyone who was 15/16th white and 1/16th Black be classified as Black. I remember the case vividly because a woman who did not know this was upset that her marriage certificate listed her as Black based on the pedigree she provided to the parish clerk. It is sad that race is a factor is much of American society given that we have taken pride in being a melting pot.

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The 2019 Snopes article did not prove the connection to slavery ownership because they could not link her great-grandmother, Christiana (Miss Chrishy) Brown to the slave owner. Chrishy’s parents were Mary Mulvina Brown and Hamilton Brown, Jr., the son of Hamilton Brown. Hamilton Brown Sr. (1776-1843) was born in Ireland and immigrated to Jamaica where he owned many sugar plantations and enslaved more than 400 Black and Creole people. A Civil Registration Birth is on record at Salt Lake City listing a Christiana Brown, female, with mother’s name listed as “Mary Jane Brown” (FHL Film No. 1389175). There’s the proof Kamala is directly linked to Hamilton Brown and to slave ownership. And, they were Irish!!

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What difference does it make if she is a descendant of a slave? I am tired of people always trying to put people into categories. We are all created equal and should be treated as equals….

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Kamala’s father stated he was a descendant of a SLAVE OWNER in Jamaica, so does that mean her father is part white or did the Jamaicans own slaves like some Africans owned slaves? So confusing!

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    Her father’s mother was Beryl Christie and her parents were Iris Finegan (1888-1981) who married a guy named Christie.

    Her father’s father was Oscar Joseph Harris (1914-1976) and his parents were Joseph Alexander Harris (1874-1939) who had a relationship with Christiana (Chrishy) Brown. Chrishy’s grandfather was the slave owner who was born in Northern Ireland. My guess is the link to referring to Black is through the name Harris.

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In these discussions, there’s a fine line between genuine curiosity about Harris’ fascinating mixed ancestry (which are comments about genealogy), and implications that she’s not honest about who she is (which are comments that may have an underlying political motive).

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How about looking at the persons qualifications rather than trying to pigeon her in a box you cannot open.

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Also, you have to remember that the records were so inadequate in the 1800’s until early 1900’s. I can find some records showing my grandmother with a birthday in 1908 and 1912. Almost have to take their word for it. Not sure why anyone would want to brag about being the descendent of a slave owner.

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This was not much of a genealogy. The “researcher” mostly wanted to talk about racial inequality, etc, in the video.

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