JAIME HARRISON: OVERCOMING BARRIERS
Jaime understands the challenges of so many Americans who feel disconnected and disaffected, because he grew up under similar circumstances. For these reasons, Jaime Harrison is the right person at the right time to lead the Democratic National Committee. He understands we have to grow the party from the ground up at the community, county, and state level.
Jaime was born to a teen mom in rural South Carolina who would often have to travel to Atlanta to find work. During those times, Jaime was raised by his grandparents.
While their family struggled economically, they poured all of their resources into providing Jaime with the best life possible. His childhood memories are not of struggle and poverty—they are memories of comic books, his grandmother’s lima beans and ham hocks, and the loving relatives who worked tirelessly to provide him with the opportunities they were not afforded.
Jaime did whatever it took to make sure he made the most of his opportunities—whether it was thumbing through comic books and his grandparents’ bills to improve his reading skills, or studying furiously to impress his teachers.
His hard work and his family’s sacrifice paid off when, after months of walking to the mailbox to check for that thick, yellow envelope, he was accepted to Yale University—making him the first person in his family to attend college.
As Jaime stood at the end of his driveway, shouting with joy to his grandmother who stood back on the porch, he also knew that the opportunity alone was not enough to guarantee success. He’d have to work for it.
At Yale, Jaime struggled with school. His first semester, he found himself well-behind the other students, most of whom came from elite prep schools and wealthy families. But after a rough start, Jaime put in the extra time and work and watched his grades slowly, but surely, trend upward.
Throughout his career, he has worked to provide mentorship and guidance and create opportunity for young people in the same situation in which he began. After graduating from Yale, he returned to South Carolina to teach 9th grade social studies at his alma mater, Orangeburg-Wilkinson High School.
Later, he led College Summit, a national non-profit dedicated to helping low-income students get into college. And after graduating from law school at Georgetown, he worked in the Capitol alongside legislators on the House floor.
Jaime is driven by a commitment and desire to provide more people with the same life-changing opportunities he was given so they can climb the rungs of the ladder that is the American Dream—and then reach back to lift their communities up along with them.
His commitment is not limited by political party, race, religion or wealth. It has led him to be the first African American elected as Chair of the South Carolina Democratic Party.
His spirit of cooperation and passion for getting things done has driven him to work across political boundaries. For example, it has allowed him to forge a friendship based on common interests with the Chairman of the South Carolina Republican Party.
And it is a commitment that brought him back home to his community to make good on his promise to lift up those who gave him so much and to provide opportunities to young people who are growing up the way he did.
In effect, Jaime Harrison’s story is the story of every American. And it is Jaime’s background and experiences that make him the best person to begin to reach out across this country to cities and small towns and intently listen to everyone about their aspirations for a fairer, more equitable system that provides genuine opportunities for a chance at the American Dream to as many people as possible.