Proud Women of Colour:

Kamala Harris
25th November 2022

Not only was Madam Vice President Kamala Harris the first woman to be sworn in as the Vice President of the United States, but she was also the first Black and South Asian person to do so. Before being chosen as California’s Attorney General in 2010 and again in 2014, Harris was chosen as San Francisco’s district attorney in 2003. She held the role of junior U.S. senator for California between 2017 and 2021 before assuming one of the highest positions in the White House. Harris has fought for causes including progressive tax reform, immigration reform, and healthcare reform throughout her career.

Harris was born on October 20, 1964, at Oakland, California’s Kaiser Hospital to Jamaican-born Donald Harris, an emeritus professor of economics at Stanford University, and Indian American immigrant Dr. Shyamala Gopalan, a breast cancer researcher. The pair wed the following year after meeting while doctorate candidates at the University of California, Berkeley, in the fall of 1962. Gopalan nurtured Harris and her younger sister Maya after the couple’s divorce in 1972.

Kamala was the name Dr. Gopalan gave to her child which meant “A culture that worships goddesses produces strong women,” Her first name-Kamala means “lotus” in Sanskrit and which is also another name for the Hindu deity Lakshmi partly, to help preserve her cultural identity. In Sanskrit, her middle name-Davi means “goddess,” which is another nod to Hinduism.

Harris was raised with a strong sense of justice by active parents. They took her to civil rights marches and introduced her to the people who inspired her to pursue a career in prosecution, including Constance Baker Motley and Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall.

Kamala Harris was raised and brought up in a multicultural neighborhood with a large extended family. She wed Douglas Emhoff in 2014. Their kids Ella and Cole are part of a sizable blended family.

She has drawn inspiration from the remarks she uttered the first time she stood up in court throughout her career: Kamala Harris, for the people. Harris began her career as a prosecutor for child sexual abuse in 1990 when she joined the Alameda County District Attorney’s Office. Later, she worked as the chief of the Children and Families Division for the San Francisco City Attorney’s Office after serving as a managing attorney in the San Francisco District Attorney’s Office.

In 2003, she won the San Francisco district attorney’s election. In that capacity, Vice President Harris established an innovative initiative to give first-time drug offenders the chance to complete their high school education and find employment. The United States Department of Justice named the initiative as a national model of innovation for law enforcement.

In 2010, Harris won the election for Attorney General of California, where he managed the biggest state court system in the country. She founded the first Bureau of Children’s Justice in the state and put into place a number of ground-breaking reforms that made the criminal justice system more transparent and accountable.

Harris secured a $1.1 billion settlement for students and veterans who were taken advantage of by a for-profit education corporation while serving as attorney general, in addition to a $20 billion settlement for Californians whose homes had been foreclosed upon. She was a national leader in the battle for marriage equality and defended the Affordable Care Act in court. She also enforced environmental legislation.

Harris, the vice president, was sworn in as a senator for the US in 2017. She advocated for refugees and immigrants in her opening remarks. She advocated for enhanced DREAMer protections and asked for more oversight of the poor circumstances in immigrant detention centres while serving on the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee.

She drafted bipartisan legislation to help secure American elections while serving on the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, where she collaborated with members of both parties to protect the American people from dangers from outside. She traveled to Jordan, Afghanistan, and Iraq to speak with servicemen and evaluate the ground reality. The Senate Judiciary Committee included her among its members. She took part in two hearings for Supreme Court nominations while she was a member of the committee.

Vice President Harris, who served on the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works, supported legislation to fight hunger, ease housing affordability, enhance maternity care, and address the climate issue. The Senate approved her partisan anti-lynching legislation in 2018. Her efforts to inject much-needed cash into low-income areas during the COVID-19 epidemic, as well as her legislation to safeguard historically black colleges and universities, were both passed into law.

Kamala Harris, the Vice President, accepted President Biden’s invitation to join his campaign on August 11, 2020, and work to bring the country together. As was the case with other roles she has held, she is the first woman, the first Black American, and the first South Asian American to be elected Vice President. But she is determined that she won’t be the last.

In her role as vice president, Kamala Harris has collaborated with President Joe Biden to pass legislation that would improve underserved areas’ infrastructure, increase vaccination rates across the nation, and rebuild our economy. She has led the administration’s efforts to forge broad alliances in support of women’s rights, including advancing workers’ rights to collectively bargain and organize, protecting reproductive freedom, and preserving the right to vote. Involving foreign leaders and bolstering our country’s ties and collaborations have both been major accomplishments for the vice president.

She never loses sight of the people in our country and our collective future in whatever she undertakes.

“Dream with ambition, lead with conviction and see yourself in a way that others might not see you, simply because they have never seen it before” – Kamala Harris