In a career marked by firsts, Kamala Harris became the first Black woman to serve as California’s attorney general and is now running with Joe Biden for vice president. Her profile is likely to energize Democrats and attract young voters from the Black community.
Yet many of her aides and friends see her caught in a political muddle – and they suspect she might be being dogged by someone getting in her way.
Born in Oakland
Harris was born in Oakland on October 20, 1964 to parents who emigrated from India (her mother) and Jamaica (her father). She spent her early years in Berkeley, where she studied at UC Berkeley until she was 12 years old.
She graduated from Howard University in political science and economics. She then went on to earn a law degree from the University of California, Hastings College of the Law in San Francisco.
She has frequently cited her experiences growing up in the Bay Area as foundational in her political career. She has also praised the role of her father in her life and called her home city of Oakland her “first real home.”
Graduated from Howard University
During her time at Howard, Harris double-majored in political science and economics. She also joined Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority and participated in protests against apartheid in South Africa.
Upon graduating, Harris went on to serve as a prosecutor. She later became the first Black woman district attorney in San Francisco and the first Black woman attorney general of California.
Throughout her career, Harris has always been guided by the words she said when she first stood up in court: Kamala Harris, for the people. She hopes to bring that spirit to the White House, where she will lead as Vice President of the United States.
Became the first Black woman District Attorney in San Francisco
Born in Oakland, California to Jamaican and Indian parents, Harris grew up in an urban environment. She attended Howard University, one of the nation’s oldest Black colleges and universities.
She pledged Alpha Kappa Alpha, the nation’s first sorority for African American women. Her mother encouraged her to pursue a career in law and politics.
Throughout her career, Harris has made it her mission to fight injustice. She defended the Affordable Care Act in court, enforced environmental laws, and led the movement for marriage equality.
Became the first Black woman Attorney General of California
Born to parents who immigrated from Jamaica and India, Kamala Harris has devoted her life to fighting for justice. She has pushed for racial equality and the rights of immigrants, and fought against discriminatory practices in the criminal justice system.
She served two terms as California’s attorney general, and in 2016, became the first Black woman to be elected to the U.S. Senate. She is the first African American and the second South Asian woman to hold a major federal office. She is also the highest-ranking female official in U.S. history and the first woman of color to serve as vice president.
Became the first Black woman U.S. Senator
Born in Oakland to parents who emigrated from India and Jamaica, Harris learned about justice at an early age. Her mother, Shyamala Gopalan Harris, a breast-cancer researcher and pioneer in her own right, taught her to stand up for what’s right.
She went on to graduate from Howard University and the Hastings College of Law in San Francisco. She has been a champion of justice-related legislation, including the DREAM Act and a police-reform bill. She’s also been known for her aggressive questioning of witnesses in congressional hearings.
Became the first Black woman Vice President of the United States
The daughter of Indian and Jamaican parents, Kamala Harris has made history as the first Black woman to be nominated as Vice President by a major political party. Her ascension into office is a monumental achievement, not only for her but for the millions of women across races and demographics who are now recipients of a new face of power.
She was escorted through the Capitol by the police officer who single-handedly broke up a mob of Trump supporters who attempted to storm the Senate floor this month, and she swore in on a Bible once owned by Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall. It’s a moment that will have deep and long-lasting significance for the nation.