A lawyer, the first woman to serve as California attorney general, a US Senator from California, and the first woman of color to run as the vice-presidential nominee for a major party.
Kamala Devi Harris was born in Oakland, California. Both of her parents were immigrants, her mother from India, and her father from Jamaica. Growing up in Berkeley, California, during the civil rights movement, she saw the lawyers as the architects of change and decided to become one. In kindergarten, she traveled daily from the predominantly black neighborhood she lived in, to a school in Thousand Oaks as part of desegregation efforts. When she was 7 years old, her parents got divorced, and 5 years later, she moved with her mother and sister to Montreal, Canada. There she had her first political initiative – protesting against a policy that banned children from playing on the lawn of their apartment building.
After high school, Harris returned to the US to attended Howard University, from which she graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree in political science and economics. While in school, she held her first campaign as a class representative of the student council. Harris also chaired the economics society, led the debate team, and was a member of the Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority. At 22, she moved to California to study Law at Hastings College, where she served as president of its chapter of the Black Law Students Association. At the age of 25, after passing the bar examination, Harris began a career at the deputy district attorney in Alameda County, California. In this position, she prosecuted cases of sexual abuse, drug trafficking, and gang violence. In 1998, she began to work as an assistant district attorney for the San Francisco district attorney and then as City Attorney at San Francisco City Hall.
In 2004, Harris took over her former employer, becoming the District Attorney of the City and County of San Francisco, the first woman as well as an African-American woman. In 2010, she was elected as the Attorney General of California and once again made history for being the first woman and the first person of color serving in this position. In-office, she prosecuted cases of guns, drugs, and human trafficking, she defended the Affordable Care Act, protected the climate change law, helped win marriage equality, and created the Open Justice platform – a public online criminal justice database.
In 2015, Harris declared her candidacy for the US Senate, in her campaign, she called for the protection of women’s reproductive rights, increase the minimum wage and immigration and criminal-justice reforms. In 2017, when she was sworn as US Senator for California, she became the first South Asian-American and second US African-American woman senator. After taking office, Harris began serving on various committees, including the Committee on the Judiciary, the Select Committee on Intelligence, the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee. At the beginning of 2019, she announced her nomination for the Democratic presidential election, but by the end of the year, she decided to quit the race.
On August 11, 2020, Joe Biden, the Democratic candidate in the 2020 presidential elections, announced her as his vice-president, and at 55, Harris became the first woman of color to run as the vice-presidential nominee for a major party ticket.
“The American dream belongs to all of us”
“The American dream belongs to all of us”
More Interesting Anecdotes:
- Growing up, she went to a Black Baptist church as well as to a Hindu temple.
- By the age of 7, she already traveled to India, the Caribbean, Africa, and England.
- When she visited her father in Palo Alto, CA, the neighbors’ kids were not allowed to play with her and her sister because they were black.
- She wrote a memoir called “The Truths We Hold: An American Journey.”
- Her name means “lotus” is Sanskrit and is also the second name of the Hindu goddess Lakshmi.
- She got married when she was 50 years old to Douglas Emhoff. His children from a previous marriage call her “Momala.”
- She collects Converse Chuck Taylor sneakers.
- She wrote two non-fiction books and one children’s book.