Kamala Harris has broken a lot of ground. Born on October 20th, 1964, the Oakland, California native graduated from Howard University and the University of California’s Hastings College of the Law.
After years working in California’s legal system, Harris became state attorney general in 2010. In 2016, she became the second Black woman and the very first South Asian American in the U.S. Senate. In 2019, she ran for the Democratic nomination for the presidency in the 2020 election. She ended up dropping out of the race, but went on to be chosen by Joe Biden as the 2020 Democratic vice presidential candidate on August 11th, 2020.
But that success didn’t happen overnight. Harris’ desire to fight for justice was instilled in her from a young age by her parents. Harris told The Washington Post:
“I was born a Black child in America, the child of parents who were marching and shouting, just like all the folks who have been marching and shouting in the streets these last days. […] It’s just what I do. It’s what I believe in. I don’t know any other way.”
Harris grew up admiring people who also had a strong track record of fighting for justice and equality, such as Thurgood Marshall, Charles Hamilton Houston, and Constance Baker Motley. Her mother told San Francisco magazine in 2003:
“She was writing letters to Nixon to stop the bombing in Vietnam before she could really write her name.”
Although Harris’ mom passed away a decade before Harris decided to run for president, she continues to be a major inspiration to her daughter. In a public appearance in 2019, Harris said that one of the reasons she ran for president was because of her mother’s attitude about taking charge of the problems in your life.
Harris’ mother, an intelligent woman with a Ph.D. who worked in breast cancer research, was also a trailblazer. She warned her daughter about the sexism she would encounter in her career. Harris told The New Yorker:
“She was one of the very few women of color in science. When I decided to run [for public office], she said, ‘Honey, you watch out for what’s going to happen, because there are still certain myths about what women can do and cannot do, in spite of the fact of what women actually do in life.'”
Harris grew up in a multicultural family with two immigrant parents. Her mother is from India and her father is from Jamaica. And while her sister Maya Harris isn’t as well known as Kamala, she’s also an inspiring figure. Maya graduated with a law degree from Stanford, after which she became one of the youngest law school deans in the country at the age of 29. Maya served as an advisor during Hillary Clinton’s 2016 campaign, then went on to run her sister’s presidential campaign. During her presidential run, Kamala Harris told Politico:
“I think most people who know Maya will tell you she’s one of the smartest people they know. The fact that she has volunteered to work on this campaign at such a high level, and she’s exactly who she’s always been — she works around the clock and she’s probably the hardest, if not one of the hardest working people on the campaign — I feel very blessed.”
In her autobiography, The Truths We Hold: An American Journey, Harris said that, while she was raised to be proud of her Indian heritage, her “mother understood very well that she was raising two Black daughters.” Harris wrote that her mother raised her children to be, quote, “confident, proud Black women.”
Harris said that she has never struggled with her identity, telling The Washington Post that she grew up comfortable in her identity and simply thinks of herself as, quote, “an American.”
Harris also told The Washington Post that figuring out a way to, quote, “categorize” herself was the last thing on her mind, saying:
“[When] I first ran for office that was one of the things that I struggled with, which is that you are forced through that process to define yourself in a way that you fit neatly into the compartment that other people have created. My point was: I am who I am. I’m good with it. You might need to figure it out, but I’m fine with it.” Watch the video to learn The Untold Truth Of Kamala Harris!
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