Kamala Harris: A VP pick takes center stage

Harris is the first woman of color on a major party ticket.
Harris is the first woman of color on a major party ticket.
Today Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., made her first appearance as running mate to Joe Biden, presumptive Democratic nominee for president.

    She is the first woman of color to become a vice presidential candidate on a major party ticket. And if Biden and Harris defeat incumbent President Donald Trump and his vice president, Mike Pence, Harris would become the 49th vice president of the United States and the first woman to hold that office.
    Not only that, she would also be the first person of both African American and Asian American descent to become vice president. Harris has had her share of firsts. Here is a condensed account of her career, along with links for further study:

Beginnings: Her full name is Kamala (pronounced Comma-la) Devi Harris. She was born in Oakland, California, on Oct. 20, 1964, the child of two immigrants. Her mother, Shyamala Gopalan Harris (1938-2009), was a cancer researcher from India; her father, Donald Harris, 81, is from Jamaica and a professor emeritus of economics at Stanford University. They had one other child, Maya, 53, also an attorney and civil rights advocate. The couple divorced when their two daughters were young.

Childhood and desegregation: Harris' parents marched in civil rights demonstrations, and she was among an early wave of students involved in desegregating schools. Famously  she made this point while debating Biden when the two were vying for the presidential nomination in 2019. “And you know," 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 and that little girl was me.” The Sacramento Bee subsequently elaborated that while Harris was among the second class of students to participate in a fully integrated busing program at her elementary school, "she was far from the first black child to attend the school."
    Harris graduated from Howard University in Washington, D.C., in 1986, and went on to earn a law degree from the University of California, Hastings, in 1989.

Career: After law school, Harris joined the Alameda County District Attorney's Office in California. Later, she served as district attorney for San Francisco and then was elected California's attorney general, according to her Senate website. Harris was the first African American and first woman to serve in that post. Once in office, she "won a $25-billion settlement for California homeowners hit by the foreclosure crisis," the website recounts. She also "defended California’s landmark climate change law, protected the Affordable Care Act, helped win marriage equality for all Californians, and prosecuted transnational gangs that trafficked in guns, drugs, and human beings."

Becoming a senator: In 2017, Harris was sworn into the U.S. Senate. She was the first Indian American to serve as a U.S. senator as well as the second African American woman, according to Encyclopedia Britannica.

Work in the Senate: She serves on the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, the Select Committee on Intelligence, the Committee on Environment and Public Works, and the Committee on the Budget, according to her biography.

Personal: She married another attorney, Douglas Emhoff, 55, in 2014. He has two grown children from a previous marriage. 


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