Kamala Harris: Who is she?
The 49th vice president of the United States (2021-), Kamala Harris, whose full name is Kamala Devi Harris, was born in Oakland, California, in 1964. She served in President Joe Biden’s Democratic administration. She held the position for the first time as a woman and an African American. She has previously worked as California’s attorney general and in the U.S. Senate (2017–21). (2011–17).
Her mother was a cancer researcher and her mother’s father, a Jamaican professor who taught at Stanford University, was the daughter of an Indian ambassador. Maya, her younger sister, went on to campaign for public policy. Kamala received a B.A. in political science and economics from Howard University before graduating with a law degree (1989) from Hastings College.
Later, she served as a deputy district attorney in Oakland (1990–1998), where she gained a reputation for being a severe prosecutor of cases involving gang violence, drug trafficking, and sexual assault. In 2004, Harris, who advanced through the ranks, was appointed district attorney. By winning by a margin of less than 1% in 2010, she became the first woman and the first African American to hold the position of attorney general in California. She showed political independence after assuming office the following year by refusing to give in to pressure from President Barack Obama’s administration to settle a case she had brought against mortgage lenders for unethical conduct. She instead pursued California’s case and obtained a judgment that was five times more than what was initially proposed in 2012. Her unwillingness to support Proposition 8, which outlawed same-sex unions in the state and was passed in 2008, contributed to its repeal in 2013. The 2009 book by Harris and Joan O’C. Hamilton, titled Smart on Crime, was hailed as a successful approach to the issue of criminal recidivism.
At the Democratic National Convention in 2012, Harris gave a speech that went down in history, boosting her notoriety nationwide. She wed attorney Douglas Emhoff two years later. She was chosen to compete for Barbara Boxer’s vacant U.S. Senate seat because she was widely regarded as the party’s emerging star. Early in 2015, Harris announced her candidacy. While running for office, she advocated for raising the minimum wage, protecting women’s reproductive rights, and reforming the criminal justice and immigration systems. In the 2016 election, she won handily.
Harris became the second Black woman and the first Indian American senator when she assumed office in January 2017. She started working on several committees, including the Select Committee on Intelligence and the Judiciary Committee. She gained notoriety for her prosecutorial approach to interrogating witnesses in front of the committee, which garnered criticism—and even interruptions—from Republican senators. She gained notoriety in June for her inquiries to Jeff Sessions, the U.S. attorney general, who was appearing before the intelligence committee about potential Russian influence in the 2016 presidential election; she had earlier advocated for his resignation. The Truths We Hold: An American Journey, Harris’ autobiography, was released in January 2019.
Shortly after, Harris declared her intention to run for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination. She was considered one of the front-runners from the start, and she gained notoriety when, during a primary debate, she got into a heated argument with fellow contender Joe Biden about his opposition to school busing in the 1970s and 1980s, among other racial issues. Although Harris’s popularity grew at first, her campaign was in severe peril by September 2019, and in December she announced her withdrawal from the contest. She kept up her public presence and, in particular, rose to prominence as a strong proponent of social justice reform in the wake of the death in police custody in May 2020 of an African American man named George Floyd. Her actions silenced critics who had said that she had ignored allegations of police wrongdoing, including shady shootings, during her time as attorney general. Others, however, believed that her support for reform was a political ploy to profit from the public’s growing acceptance of social change. Many Democrats urged Vice President-elect Joe Biden to pick an African American woman as his running mate as racial inequality in the country gained prominence. This choice was viewed as essential to Biden’s prospects of winning the election. Harris was the first Black woman to be included on a major party’s national ticket when Biden selected her in August. She was elected vice president of the United States for the first time in November.
Trump and several other Republicans contested the election results in the weeks that followed, citing voting fraud. Despite the fact that several lawsuits were brought, the great majority of them were rejected since no proof was shown to back up the claims. By outlining an agenda and choosing personnel, Harris and Biden started the transition to a new government at this time. The election results were recognized by all states by the beginning of December, and the process then went to Congress for final certification. A handful of congressional members, including Senators Josh Hawley (Missouri) and Ted Cruz (Texas), indicated that they will challenge the electors of various states amid Trump’s repeated demands for Republicans to annul the election. On January 6, 2021, just after the hearings got underway, a crowd of Trump loyalists stormed the Capitol. Biden and Harris were declared the winners after many hours of work to secure the building. Later, she called the siege “an assault on America’s democracy,” which many people felt was sparked by Trump. She officially left the Senate on January 18. Harris was sworn in as vice president two days later in front of an overwhelming security presence.