Sen. Kamala Harris has been chosen to run on the Democratic ticket with presumptive nominee Joe Biden. The two, who had once been rivals earlier in running for the nomination, will now join forces to take on President Donald Trump in December.
But Harris has a long political history beginning in California and has spent decades climbing the public service ladder of success starting from her days as District Attorney in San Francisco to eventually becoming a United States Senator.
If their ticket wins, Biden's choice in her will place Harris one step away from being in the most powerful office in the world. Here are five things to know about the new vice presidential nominee.
Harris was born in 1964 to a father of Jamaican heritage, Donald Harris and a mother who was born in India, Shyamala Gopalan, who met while attending the University of California Berkeley as graduate students. She has touted both her Black and Indian heritage, telling the Los Angeles Times that she and her sister Maya grew up attending both a Baptist church and a Hindu temple
Harris graduated from Howard University in 1986. While there, she was first exposed to the global activist stage when she was among the many students who demonstrated in front of the South African embassy in Washington D.C. against apartheid, according to The Washington Post. Years later at Howard’s 2017 commencement, she issued a challenge to the emerging graduates saying, "You can march for Black lives on the street, and you can ensure law enforcement accountability by serving as a prosecutor or on a police commission. The reality is on most matters, somebody is going to make the decision -- so why not let it be you?"
Before she became a U.S. Senator, Kamala Harris worked her way up the state’s prosecutorial system, first working as a deputy district attorney in Alameda County where she specialized in prosecuting child sexual assault cases. She became San Francisco District Attorney in 2004 where she raised the felony conviction rates from just over 50 percent when she took office to 76 percent in 2009. Harris was also a staunch opponent of the death penalty, even when called to seek it when a San Francisco policeman was killed in the line of duty.
She eventually became California Attorney General where she started agencies like the Bureau of Children’s Justice, and introduced implicit bias training for police after a rash of police shootings swept across the nation.
Harris was elected to the U.S. Senate in 2016. Almost immediately, she became a vocal opponent to President Trump’s policies. She was among the first to call out what was called Trump’s “Muslim Ban” when he signed an executive order barring citizens of Muslim majority nations. During senate sessions she has spent many hours grilling Trump appointees including former Attorney General Jeff Sessions, Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh and CIA Director Gina Haspel. She also held Trump responsible for showing leadership during the coronavirus pandemic.
"The buck stops with him. You know, here's the thing, this is a moment of international crisis," Harris said on ABC’s ‘The View’ "And this is where leaders must lead."
Harris published her memoir entitled, “The Truths We Hold: An American Journey” in 2019, which became a New York Times bestseller. The book told her story of being the daughter of immigrant parents and rising to become U.S. Senator. While serving as San Francisco District Attorney, she also published "Smart On Crime: A Career Prosecutor's Plan to Make Us Safer," which outlined her theories on criminal justice reform.
She also authored a children’s book, “Superheroes Are Everywhere.” The pictorial book illustrates to kids how they can find people to depend on, and how they can be superheroes themselves.
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