A Rising Star: 7 Facts About California Senator Kamala Harris

As college students in the midst of midterm season, our daily lives exist as an endless cycle of studying, studying and *internally cries* even more studying! Because of this, free time is extremely precious. And political news hardly serves as any student’s #1 method for relaxation. Let’s be honest, watching The Bachelor will always be more enticing than watching PBS’s NewsHour. Yet, despite limited free time, keeping up with the news is EXTREMELY important—especially when it affects the communities that we are a part of. One story worth noting is that California’s junior Senator, Kamala Harris, has just announced her candidacy for President! Kamala Harris represents our California community. And due to the ever more likely chance that we will continue to hear Kamala’s name, we should all know a little more about her. Listed below are 7 refresher facts that will soon turn you into a Kamala Harris expert! 

1. A Child Of Immigrant Parents

Born October 20, 1964, Kamala is the oldest daughter of immigrant parents from Jamaica and India. Within the household, Kamala’s parents emphasized values of civil rights and political activism. In fact, Kamala’s mother, Shyamala Gopalan, rebelliously stayed in California resisting an arranged marriage, and instead created a home for herself in Oakland’s black community. Shyamala raised her daughters to be “confident, proud black women” who also honored their Indian ancestry. 

2. She Lived In Canada

Kamala’s parents separated when she was five years old and sole custody was awarded to Shyamala Gopalan. Consequently, when Shyamala acquired a research and teaching position in Montreal, Kamala and her sister moved with her to Canada. Kamala was twelve years old at the time and spent the rest of her adolescence there. 

3. Attended Howard University & Hastings Law School 

After graduating from high school, Kamala returned to the United States to pursue higher education at Howard, a historically black university. In 1986, she graduated with a double major in Political Science and Economics. Kamala then continued her education at the University of California’s Hastings College of Law in San Francisco.

4. California Careers

Although initially failing the California Bar exam, Harris began her career as a deputy district attorney and quickly garnered a reputation for being tough. Following a brief stint in the San Francisco Attorney’s Office, Harris then successfully ran for District Attorney of San Francisco. Within this role, she dealt primarily with cases involving gangs, sexual abuse and drug dealing. In 2010, Kamala won a tight race becoming California’s first female and African American Attorney General. Again, in 2016, Kamala ran another successful political campaign but for the U.S. Senate. She again broke barriers as the first Indian American and second African American women Senator in the ENTIRE history of the Senate. 

5. Presidential Campaign 

Following the announcement of her presidential campaign on ABC’s Good Morning America, Kamala has faced attacks criticizing her time as California’s Attorney General. Liberal critics argue that Harris did not do enough to reform California’s criminal justice system and aggravated a system that put even “more young men of color behind bars.” Harris, however, self-identifies as a “progressive prosecutor” emphasizing that “a harm against any one of us is a harm against us all.” Harris is the only Democratic nominee who has launched a fully functional presidential campaign. In addition, Harris has modeled her campaign graphics on the first black and female presidential candidate, Rep. Shirley Chisholm. 

6. A Dynamic Duo   

Maya Harris, Kamala’s sister, is chairing the presidential campaign. Maya is not at all a newcomer to the political scene. Her past experience includes working as a senior policy adviser to Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign, teaching as a law professor and working with the ACLU.  

7. Fun Facts

Kamala’s favorite Indian food is the korma and chicken masala. She loves converse! She also owns a collection of Chuck Taylors fit for all weather and occasions. And she unwinds at the end of the day by reading recipes. Marcella Hazan and Alice Waters are her favorites!

Becoming informed citizens is our greatest political power! Hopefully this post helped increase your knowledge and gave you some understanding of the current state of one 2020 Democratic hopeful.