In United States history, Kamala Harris is the first Asian-American and Black woman to run for vice-president. The running mate of Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden, she would make history again if the duo wins, with a strong chance of running for the position of President, four years from now.
Outspoken against the incumbent US President Donald Trump, Harris has been known to shatter glass ceilings in her life. In 2016, she became the second black woman to serve in the US senate.
Ahead of crucial presidential elections this year, marked a number of first, let’s have a look at Kamala Harris journey so far:
Born on October 20, 1964 in Oakland, Harris’ mother and father emigrated from India and Jamaica, respectively. She went to Howard University, a ‘historically black college’ in Washington DC, and studied law at UC Hastings. After completing her legal studies, Harris worked for eight years at the Alameda County District Attorney’s office, where she prosecuted child sexual assault cases.
She later served as San Francisco’s District Attorney from 2004 to 2011 and California’s Attorney General from 2011, until 2017. During her stint as a California’s Attorney General, Harris caught the attention of national democrats, including Barack Obama.
Harris is known for fighting for seemingly progressive reforms in California – she introduced a program in San Francisco that offered first-time drug offenders education and work opportunities instead of jail time.
However, she also defended the state’s death penalty and fought to more harshly punish the parents of chronically truant school children.
BROKE SERIES OF GLASS CEILINGS
Here’s the series of firsts Harris accomplished in her career:
• Became the first African-American woman to serve as San Francisco’s District Attorney.
• First black woman to serve as California’s Attorney General.
• She is the second black woman and first South Asian-American ever elected to the Senate.
‘…THAT LITTLE GIRL WAS ME’
In 2019, Harris announced that she was running for President. During the first Democratic debates in June, Harris took Joe Biden to task over his opposition to busing as a means of desegregating American schools.
Recounting how she was personally affected by the situation, she said, “There was a little girl in California who was part of the second class to integrate her public schools and she was bused to school every day. That little girl was me.”
— Kamala Harris (@KamalaHarris) June 28, 2019
This speech by Harris on racism in US became an immediate viral sensation among people. However, she later had to withdraw herself from the US Presidential race due to “lack of funds”. In an email to supporters, Harris said she didn’t have the financial resources to continue.
Months later in 2020, Biden chose Harris as his vice-presidential pick and said – “Back when Kamala was Attorney General, she worked closely with (my son) Beau. I watched as they took on the big banks, lifted up working people, and protected women and kids from abuse. I was proud then, and I’m proud now to have her as my partner in this campaign.”
Thinking of @JoeBiden, @DrBiden and the entire Biden family today. Beau Biden was my friend. We were AGs together, and you couldn’t find a person who cared more deeply for his family, the nation he served, and the state of Delaware. Four years after his passing, I still miss him. pic.twitter.com/b7lP3TwxYq
— Kamala Harris (@KamalaHarris) May 30, 2019
A STRONG FUNDRAISER
According to a report published in The Wall Street Journal, Harris has raised $1.5 million from 38,000 donors online in the 24 hours after announcing her presidential run. However, by that time she had dropped out of the presidential bid.
As California’s attorney general, Harris has faced criticism from reformers for the ‘tough-on-crime’ policies she pursued.
She faced flak when she backed a “law that made truancy a misdemeanour” and opposed the “use of recreational marijuana”.
Later, while serving as California’s Attorney General, she had reportedly refused to investigate the police shootings of two black men.
Harris’ mother, Shyamala Gopalan is emigrated from Tamil Nadu, a state in South India. During her recent speeches, Harris has spoken about how she used to visit her maternal home in Chennai when she was young to spend summers with her grandfather who worked as a civil servant in the Government of India.
She and her sister Maya, who is also a political activist and has worked for the Hillary Clinton presidential campaign, were raised by their mother as their parents separated when Kamala was just seven-year-old. Their mother died in 2009.