Sen. Kamala Harris’ childhood friends share memories about presidential hopeful

From competing on Howard University’s debate team to her formative years busing to school, the people Harris met throughout her life shared memories as part of "Nightline’s" “Contenders @ 20” series.
7:19 | 11/06/19

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Transcript for Sen. Kamala Harris’ childhood friends share memories about presidential hopeful
California senator. Kamala was attractive so, of course, a lot of the guys liked her. But she also had a reputation for being smart, you know. So if you wanna step to her, you better step to her sayin' something' important. She was always the one who was very even keel, not fazed and not in that "I don't care way," in a focused way. She did the work! There was nothing given to her. I mean. And it was hard. She was one to not let anyone tell her who she was. All Americans, we go forward together. I'd like to show you Macintosh in person. Purple rain purple rain My name is Jill Louis. And I went to college with kamala Harris. It was a very interesting time when we were at college at Howard in the 80s. The first African American woman became miss America. And it was an event because it was groundbreaking. It was something that we had never seen before. "The Cosby show" came on during that time and the opportunity to see educated professionals in a functional family was a new phenomenon on television. To be coming of age in a time where you could see that possibilities were opening up. The horizons were broadening for women, for people of color, that, I think, was very important. Do not listen when they say it can't be done. Howard taught me, as it has taught you that you can do anything and you can do everything. My name is Dr. Shelley young-thompkins, and I had the pleasure of befriending kamala my freshman year at Howard university. On campus she was known for being a woman about business. She and I would be mistaken for, you know, professors, because we would have briefcases. You know? A lot of colleges, people may wear jeans or sweatshirts. Howard was a school where people actually dressed up to go to class. Our generation felt like if we didn't start right now, you know, that would be problematic for us. So I think we took ourselves fairly seriously. Dancing was a huge part of our social life. So there was no event, no party that didn't involve dancing. We never went to parties to, like, walk around and talk and hold a beer. People danced. That was -- that was the culture of our parties. My name is Lita rosario and I recruited kamala Harris for the Howard university debate team. A Lotta times, when males and females are in, you know, debates or spirited conversations, the men kind of, you know, use their physicalness to kind of make their point. And I saw that kamala that she didn't back down when they did that. That she proceeded to make her point. And it's funny because when I look at her on television today, I still see that character in her. There was a little girl in California who was part of the second class to integrate her public schools, and she was bussed to school every day. And that little girl was me. Every school day of the year in Berkley, the buses move approximately 3500 children across town. My name is Carole and I lived around the corner from kamala. Kamala and I were bussed together from 1971 to 1973 to Thousand Oaks school. We met each other every morning at the -- at the corner of Bancroft and browning in west Berkley, and stood in line to get on the bus. Berkeley began the bussing program because they thought that they should integrate their schools. And because the neighborhoods were so divided. To be able to be bussed and go into this other environment. It transports you into a whole 'nother little, you know, universe. It just expands your mind. I just remember her being happy. She would talk, sing songs. If the bus driver needed to say something and the kids were talking, kamala would make sure, you know, people tamped down so that everyone can listen to what the bu -- bus driver was saying. I remember her being like, sitting in the front of the circle. She was very attentive. She was paying attention. She wasn't talking. You know, some of the kids might be in the back talking. She was listening. She was listening to the story. Had she not been bused, you know, her life could have taken a totally different course. I recall her saying that she maybe wouldn't be senator if she hadn't had that opportunity. My name is Stacey johnson-batiste. I've known kamala since we were about four and a half years old. The one thing that stands out is she's -- she's the friend that listens to you. Kamala's mother is Indian and her father was Jamaican. She was part of a global conversation around race and identity at an early age. And I think that she had to learn how to become very secure within herself. She just really grew up in a very multicultural environment. But her mother raised her and Maya as black women, 'cause that's what they were. And it was a very intentful upbringing, and -- and -- and kamala really, you know -- was proud of it. Shyamala, kamala's mother, was one of the leading scientists in this country, if not across the world, you know, for cancer research. And she really pressed upon kamala and Maya to be great and be who you wanna be, and you define yourself and you define who you are. Don't you ever listen and let anybody ever tell you what you can or cannot be. This girl who I stood in line with to get on a bus to ride up to the Berkeley hills, in our little neighborhood, is running for president. I'm extremely proud. Extremely proud. When you talk about what kind of impact something like this would have. When you're able to see someone come through those barriers, that frees not only yourself but generations. I'm so proud of her, beyond words. She has never lost an election. She ran for freshman rep. She won. She ran for D.A. She won. She ran for attorney general. She ran for senate. She won. She's running for president.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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