Kamala Harris is one lady whose biography is full of firsts: she is the first Black woman to be elected district attorney in California history, the first woman to be California's attorney general, first Indian American senator, and now, the first Black woman and first Asian American to be picked as a vice presidential running mate on a major-party ticket. Just recently, Joe Biden announced that he had picked Kamala as his running mate, believing that she is the person he needs in his White House bid, and judging from her impressive biography, Biden may have made the right choice.
In March 2020, Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden pledged to pick a woman as his running mate. While his rumoured shortlist included governors, members of congress and even mayors and state legislators, he faced pressure to pick a woman of colour like Kamala Harris.
But Biden revealed that his criteria for a running mate were that they were "simpatico with me, both in terms of personality as well as substance," and could govern if Biden, 77, were unable to perform the duties of the president.
Fast forward to August 2020, and Biden has made a choice, and one that many all around the world agree with.
On August 11 2020, a Tuesday, Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden selected California Senator Kamala Harris as his choice for U.S. vice-president in the November 3 election.
The announcement was celebrated by multitudes all over the world, and even Hollywood actor Priyanka Chopra took to her Twitter to express her elation, calling the moment "transformational".
- Birth name: Kamala Devi Harris
- Date of birth: October 20, 1964
- Age: 55
- Place of birth: Oakland, California
- Parents: Donald J. Harris, Shyamala Gopalan Harris
- Sibling: Maya
- Height: 1.57m
How old is Kamala Harris?
The Democrat senator was born on October 20, 1964, in Oakland, California. At the moment, Kamala Harris age is 55 years.
Kamala Harris parents
The Democrat was born to two immigrant parents, an Indian born mother, and a Jamaican born father.
Kamala Harris mother, Shyamala Gopalan Harris, is a cancer researcher, civil rights activist and daughter of an Indian diplomat. Her father, Donald J. Harris, is the emeritus professor of Economics at Stanford University.
Kamala Harris father and mother divorced when she was seven years old, and her Hindu single mother primarily raised Kamala and her younger sister Maya on the top floor of a yellow duplex in Berkeley.
Kamala Harris education
The young Kamala Harris first attended Thousand Oaks Elementary School. When Kamala was 12 years old, her mother moved the family to Canada and started performing research work at the Jewish General Hospital and teaching at the McGill University.
Kamala and Maya then attended school in Montreal for five years.
When they arrived at Montreal, Kamala and Maya attended the Notre-Dame-des-Neiges school on Côte-des-Neiges Rd. because their mother wanted them to learn French.
For her high school education, Kamala attended Westmount High School, from where she graduated in 1981.
Hugh Kwok, who runs the Wingho Auto Classique dealership, also went to Westmount High, and in his description of high school Harris, he defines her as a very popular student who was involved in the student association and many different clubs.
Recalling their time in High school, Hugh revealed,
“Kamala would see me carrying all my bags and she’d always have a supportive word for me...She’d say: ‘Go for it Hugh!” That’s her character. She always encouraged me to stick with my dreams. It’s unfortunate that we didn’t keep in touch. I don’t follow politics, but you can bet I’ll be watching Nov. 3.”
Kamala went to college in the United States of America. She attended Howard University, where she majored in Political science and Economics.
After four years at Howard University, Harris graduated in 1986. The senator describes her time at Howard Uni. as one of the most formative experiences of her life.
She then went to earn her law degree at the University of California, Hastings, graduating in 1989.
The senator grew up with her Indian heritage, and she joined her mother on her visits to India. Her mum adopted Oakland's Black culture and immersed Kamala and her younger sister Maya within it.
In her 336-page memoir, The Truths We Hold: An American Journey, Kamala reveals,
"My mother understood very well that she was raising two black daughters...She knew that her adopted homeland would see Maya and me as black girls and she was determined to make sure we would grow into confident, proud black women."
The Kamala Harris family even went to both a Black Baptist church and a Hindu temple.
Another interesting fact about Kamala's childhood is that when she was 13 and in Montreal, Kamala and her sister Maya led a successful demonstration in front of their apartment building in protest of a policy that banned kids from playing on the lawn.
The senator began her career in the Alameda County District Attorney's office, where she focused on prosecuting child sexual assault cases.
In 2003, she became the District Attorney for San Francisco, and after two terms in office, she was elected as the first woman and the first black person to serve as California's attorney general. She held the position from 2011 to 2017.
As San Francisco's DA, she started a program to provide first-time drug offenders second chances with the opportunity to earn a high school degree and find a job.
In her nearly two terms in office as attorney general, Kamala Harris gained a reputation for being one of the Democratic party's rising stars, and she later used this momentum to propel her election as California's senator in 2016.
In 2017, Kamala D. Harris was sworn in as a United States Senator for California, the second African-American woman and first South Asian-American senator in history.
She serves on the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, the Select Committee on Intelligence, the Committee on the Judiciary, and the Committee on the Budget.
Kamala Harris 2020 White House bid
At the beginning of 2019, the U.S. senator launched her candidacy for presidency to a crowd of more than 20,000 in Oakland, California.
Her bid was met with initial enthusiasm, which later dwindled when:
- She failed to articulate a clear rationale for her campaign.
- She gave muddled answers to questions in crucial policy areas, such as healthcare.
- She was unable to capitalize on the clear high point of her candidacy - debate performance that showed off her prosecutorial skills.
Kamala also tried to walk the fine line between the progressive and moderate wings of the Democratic Party but ended up appealing to neither.
She eventually ended her candidacy on December 3, 2019, before the first Democratic contest in Iowa.
In March 2020, she endorsed Joe Biden, and in August, Biden announced that he had picked her to be his running mate. This makes her the first black woman and South Asian American to become a vice-presidential candidate.
Kamala Harris policies
Kamala has taken a front seat in condemning police brutality in the U.S. On talk shows, she calls for changes to police practices across the USA and on Twitter, she calls for the arrest of the cops that killed Breonna Taylor.
She became the lead advocate for social justice reform following the death of George Floyd, and she frequently speaks about the need to dismantle systemic racism.
Harris says that her identity makes her uniquely suited to represent those on the margins.
In 1994, Harris began dating Willie Brown, a powerhouse in California politics. The then-speaker of the state assembly was 30 years older than her.
From his perch in the assembly, Brown appointed Harris to the California Unemployment Insurance Appeals Board and the Medical Assistance Commission—positions that together paid her around $80,000 a year on top of her prosecutor's salary.
In 1995, Brown was elected as mayor of San Francisco, and in December that same year, Harris broke up with him because "she concluded there was no permanency in our relationship," Brown told Joan Walsh in 2003. "And she was absolutely right."
Kamala Harris husband
On August 22 2014, Harris married lawyer Douglas Emhoff. Emhoff is a Brooklyn-born litigator and partner at DLA Piper Law Firm.
The two were set up by one of the senator's close friends, P.R. consultant Chrisette Hudlin, and after nearly a year of dating, the San Francisco Chronicle reported that they were engaged on March 27, 2014.
They later got married four months after their engagement in a private ceremony at the Santa Barbara Courthouse. Harris' sister, Maya Harris West, acted as the officiant.
Doug, who was born just seven days before Kamala (October 13th), has two kids with his ex-wife, Kerstin. His son Cole is a graduate of Colorado College, while his younger daughter Ella studies at Parsons School of Design.
Doug's kids, Cole and Ella, are Kamala Harris children (her step-children).
Does Kamala Harris have children?
No, the senator has no children of her own. She is the stepmom to Doug's kids, who affectionately refer to her as 'Momala'.
Kamala Harris net worth
According to Forbes reporter Michela Tindera, Kamala Harris and her husband, attorney Doug Emhoff, had a fortune of $6 million as of August 2019. The bulk of the money comes from Emhoff's legal work and profits from several books authored by Harris.
Last year, Harris was one of the highest-earning of the Democratic candidates.
FAQs about the U.S. senator
Get to know her better:
What is Kamala Harris height?
The U.S. senator is 1.57 metres tall.
What is Kamala Harris ethnicity?
She is of mixed ethnicity. She was born to immigrant parents, an Indian born mother and a Jamaican born father.
Joe Biden refers to Kamala Harris as "a fearless fighter for the little guy, and one of the country’s finest public servants " and this biography proves that indeed, she is.
Biden’s decision followed a months-long search for a candidate who could lift the Democratic Party ticket in a wild and unpredictable election, and it makes Harris the first black woman and the first Asian American to run on a major party ticket in the U.S.