Treasured family Bible to play role in Kamala Harris’ inauguration

Family and lifelong friends of Vice President-elect Kamala Harris brought one priceless item from the Bay Area to Washington, D.C. for Wednesday's historic Inauguration Day ceremony.

That treasure is the Shelton family Bible which belonged to Regina Shelton, a woman Harris has called her "second mom." Harris wanted that Bible for her swearing-in ceremony as she became the nation's first Black, Indian American, female vice president in U.S. history.

"It's just really an honor that Kamala chose to use this Bible for such a historic moment," said Saniyyah Smith, Shelton's granddaughter who inherited the Bible after Shelton died. 

Smith and about a dozen other family friends were invited to the inauguration and flown to DC this week.

"We've been in D.C., quarantining for the past few days and getting COVID tests every day," said Smith.

"I don't even know how to describe it, really. It's just, you have so much joy. I have a smile on my face.  That's all I could do, no matter if we're stuck in our hotel with the army and secret service and a gate all around our hotel. It doesn't matter," said Derreck Johnson, another childhood friend.

Johnson says security has been tight.

"Stay in your room. That's basically the protocol. Stay in your room," said Johnson, speaking from his hotel room.

They are full of joy and pride and love for the woman they've called cousin since Harris and her sister Maya were children in Berkeley, being raised by their single mom Shyamala Gopalan Harris.

"They needed a place to live, and my uncle introduced her to my Aunt Regina who happened to have an apartment to rent on Bancroft way," said Peter Monroe, Harris's family friend.

Monroe says that apartment on Bancroft Way was just doors away from his Aunt Regina Shelton's home. 

Harris and her sister grew up with all the Shelton family children, seen in one photo carrying Sanniyah as a baby.

"Mostly all of her inner circle, we all have that in common. We were all raised by strong women who all had something in common. They all lived for their children," said Monroe.

Although Harris's mother and Regina Shelton have both died, their children say their spirits will be there watching Wednesday as Harris takes the oath of office.

"Shyamala, her mother, is smiling down from heaven, just...positively overjoyed. She did wonderful with her two girls. Maya is just as smart as well," said Johnson.

"Every time she's been sworn-in to every office that she's been voted into, Kamala has used my Aunt Regina's Bible," said Monroe.

Harris carried that well-loved Bible into the Capitol building when she was sworn in as a U.S. Senator in 2017.

It's a memory of Shelton's love and faith, and a part of Harris's own history, now becoming part of this moment in our nation's history.

"This such an historic moment for women and people of color," said Smith, "And it's such an honor that my grandmother gets to be a part of it."

Jana Katsuyama is a reporter for KTVU.  Email Jana at and follow her on Twitter @JanaKTVU or Facebook @NewsJana or