Gladys Harrison comes from a family history of community service and strong union ties.
She is no stranger to hard work and hard times. When she and her mother Patricia Barron opened their restaurant “Big Mama’s Kitchen” in 2005, she was also working full time at Qwest (now CenturyLink), was a union steward and the single mom of three.
Effusive and welcoming to strangers, “I have always wanted to run for public office,” she said. “I have always been a defender of people.” But she never considered it as a realistic option, she said.
In 2018 she noticed more women running for Congress and winning. Then came a turning point. “I was delivering food on a catering job,” she said. She was listening to a commentary on the radio about the president’s latest outrageous remarks, and she thought about her grandson. “In 10 or 11 years, he’s going to be writing a report about this part of our history… When I was 10 (years old) I had to write a paper about the Civil Rights Movement, and I went and asked my mom and dad and grandparents what they did. How did they get involved?” She realized he is going to ask her these things. “And I want to have an answer for him.”
In the first of two Zoom interviews with challengers for the Democratic nomination for Congress, The Reader asked Harrison to tell us her views on: economic inequality, her experience as a small business owner during COVID-19, raising money for her campaign, health insurance, raising the minimum wage, bringing manufacturing back to the U.S., affordable housing, immigration , climate change and why she is running. To help solve our country’s issues, she says “everyone will have to feel a little sting.”
Look for the second Zoom interview with the other challenger, Ann Ashford, tomorrow.