Who Is Kamala Harris?

Her name is Kamala Harris, and she will be inaugurated as Madam Vice President today, Wednesday, Jan. 20, 2021. Throughout the course of the past couple of years, she has grown from being known as the U.S. Senator to California who boldly briefed the then Supreme Court Justice nominee, Brett Kavanaugh, to now being the Vice President of the United States of America.

Born in Oakland, California in 1964, Kamala Devi Harris is the daughter of two immigrants, Donald Harris from Jamaica, an emeritus professor of economics at Stanford University and Shyamala Gopalan, a biochemist from India. They both went to study at the University of California at Berkeley, where they met through the discussion of ideas regarding social inequities based on colonialism. 

When her father earned tenure at the University of Wisconsin and her mother settled her and her younger sister, Maya Lakshmi Harris, in West Berkeley back in California, their family life consequently dissolved in 1972 as Gopalan and Harris divorced. Since then, as her father was not present in their life, the vice president’s Asian heritage became more prominent at home as she grew up. Her Black heritage came from the local cultures of Berkeley and Oakland, and her Caribbean Heritage may have escaped the forefront once her father left.

When she was still a candidate for the 2020 presidential race, she talked about the experience of being bused as a child, which among other factors, ultimately led her to attend Howard University, a historically Black university in Washington D.C., where she studied political science and economics, graduating in 1986. Subsequently, she went on to Law School at the University of California and graduated in 1989. 

Kamala Harris speaking at an event in front of an American flag Photo by Gage Skidmore from Flickr

Her experiences incited a series of laws that she would put into effect through her legislative career. A career that currently spans three decades, where she has been the District Attorney to San Francisco from 2004 to 2011, Attorney General of California from 2011 to 2017 and finally U.S. Senator of California from 2017 to 2021. The latter, where without finishing her first term, has put forth notable pieces of legislation and attempted a run for President. 

In the year 2014, Harris married entertainment attorney Douglas Craig Emhoff, becoming the stepmother of his two children Cole and Ella Emhoff. She is also very close with her sister Maya, and niece, Meenakshi “Meena” Harris, who has written a book about her mother and aunt titled, “Kamala and Maya’s Big Idea.” This non-conventional family of the Vice President is far from what the American public is used to seeing in a vice president, but then again, she is not the image of what has historically been a vice president. 

Today, Wednesday, Jan. 19, 2021, is a historic day in the United States. It is the end of an era in more ways than one, but above all, as the 46th president is inaugurated, this day marks the beginning of a time in which the United States will know a government that has had a woman of a racial minority as vice president. Assuring minorities that they are represented in their government and setting a precedent for millions of girls everywhere in the country who will now grow up with the notion that holding this elected position is an achievable goal. 

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