Introducing: Kamala Harris

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On Wednesday, January 20, history was made in America. Kamala Harris was sworn in as the first woman, first African American, and first South Asian Vice President.

 

Kamala Harris was born on October 20, 1964, and has gone on to lead a very accomplished life. She is the eldest child in her family, with one younger sister named Maya Harris. Her parents, Shyamala Gopalan and Donald Harris, were both civil rights activists. Kamala has even recalled that some of her first memories were attending civil rights protests. When she was seven years old, her parents got divorced, limiting her time with her father to weekends and summer vacations, so she was mostly influenced by her mother.

 

In her autobiography, Kamala stated, “My mother understood very well that she was raising two Black daughters, and she was determined to make sure we would grow into confident, proud Black women.”

This is referring to how important it was to Shyamala that her daughters embraced their multi-cultural background. She would take them to events at Rainbow Sign, which was a black cultural center in Berkeley, as well as trips to India.

 

When Kamala was 12, her mother moved the family to Montreal so she could be a researcher and teacher at Jewish General Hospital. Kamala went to Westmount High School, which was one of the most diverse schools in Canada. After she graduated from high school, she attended Howard University in Washington D.C., one of the most prestigious historically black universities in America. She then returned to California to study law. 

 

Kamala earned her law degree from Hastings College and became a deputy district attorney in Oakland in 1990. She had a reputation for being tough as she prosecuted many cases of sexual abuse, drug trafficking, and gang violence. She became district attorney in 2004, and in 2010 was voted attorney general of California, thus becoming the first African American and first women to hold the position. During time holding this position, she refused to defend Proposition 8, which banned same-sex marriage in California, and that lead to it being overturned in 2013.

 

In 2014, Kamala got married to attorney Douglas Emhoff. Kamala Declared her candidacy for the U.S senate in early 2015, and ended up winning the 2016 election. In January of 2017, she took office, becoming the first Indian American in the senate and just the second black woman. In early 2019, she announced that she would be seeking the democratic Presidential nomination in 2020, but she dropped out in December after losing support. Joe Biden picked her as his vice presidential running mate after being pressured by his supporters to choose an African American woman, and she became the first Black woman to appear on a major party’s national ticket. Joe and Kamala won the 2020 election, and were sworn in on January 20, 2021. 

 

Many young women, African Americans, and Indian Americans, have been inspired by all that Kamala has done. Kamala has always wanted to be a role model for young women

Harris stated: “My mother had a saying: ‘Kamala, you may be the first to do many things, but make sure you’re not the last.”

And she has been living up to that by breaking so many boundaries and inspiring others to do the same.