Comma Bookstore owner inspired as Vice President Harris takes office

When Kamala Harris campaigned in downtown Flint in September 2020, she met one-on-one with three black-owned small businesses.
Published: Jan. 20, 2021 at 6:07 PM EST
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FLINT, Mich. (WJRT) - (1/20/2021) - Just a few months before Kamala Harris was named the Vice President elect, she campaigned in downtown Flint.

Harris spent the afternoon meeting one-on-one with three black-owned small businesses in the City.

Moments after Harris took her oath of office, ABC12 caught up with the owner of Comma Bookstore and Social Hub. She shared this isn’t just a monumental day for her family, it also impacts the future of her business.

On September 22, 2020, Egypt Otis and her 9-year-old daughter met now-Vice President Kamala Harris. Otis explained it’s an experience she’s grateful her young daughter was a part of, one the two of them talk about often.

“She looks at her like a superhero,” Otis shared. “She was just really excited to see some of her in somebody else.”

A photo of the three of them the day of Harris’s visit captured some of that joy. Otis and her daughter were shocked when Harris asked to come in and see the new store.

“Our Vice President asked, ‘What do you want to be when you get older?’ She told her she wanted to be a Zoologist,” Otis said. “And then, she said that she should go to Africa and see all the animals. So now my daughter is constantly saying that she’s going to go to Africa to be a -- to learn about all the animals, when she becomes a Zoologist.”

A message Otis said all young people need to hear, but especially kids of color, like Harris once was. She explained the country’s vote -- selecting Harris, a biracial female to the Vice Presidency, is proof you can dream big, there are no limits to who you want to and can be.

“Within this bookstore that’s exactly what we prioritize,’ she said. “Our values are in alignment of representation, of being intentional of the community and the identities and the intersections that we have here. So seeing that in real time, it’s so important.”

Just a month before the visit, Otis became the first female and first black bookstore owner in Genesee County.

She opened her own business mid-pandemic when our country had recently revealed again it’s deep racial divide. But, Otis said, she’s no longer nervous with 46 and his VP’s new leadership.

“It’s just like, finally, we finally got to this moment and now the real work can actually begin,” she said.

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