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Kamala Harris’ Groundbreaking Nomination Makes History

Aug/16/2020 / by Jordana Weiss
kamala harris
Image credits: Associated Press

Just this past week, on Tuesday, August 11th, 2020, Democratic candidate Joe Biden announced his long-awaited pick for Vice President. After weeks and months of speculation and an exhaustive search, Senator Kamala Harris became the presumptive Democratic vice presidential nominee.

Although she made a name for herself in the Democratic primary by aggressively going after Biden on topics like school busing, Harris is viewed as simultaneously a safe and exciting VP pick. Much of this has to do with her identity: As a Black and South Asian woman and the child of two immigrants, she represents a new lived experience that has yet to be elevated so prominently. After Geraldine Ferraro and Sarah Palin, Senator Harris is only the third female vice presidential candidate in history and is the first woman of color nominated.

As a Black and South Asian woman and the child of two immigrants, she represents a new lived experience that has yet to be elevated so prominently.

Even though she’s been the nominee for less than one week, we’re already seeing sexist and racist personal attacks leveled against her from every level of the conservative establishment. Clearly, this brilliant, articulate, and driven woman of color represents everything that the racist, entrenched establishment fears.

Her Early Life

Kamala Devi Harris was born in 1964 to Donald J. Harris, a Jamaican-born Stanford professor of economics, and Shyamala Gopalan, an Indian immigrant to the United States with a Ph.D. in endocrinology who helped advance research on hormones pertaining to breast cancer.

Harris primarily grew up in Berkeley, California, but spent some time in Montreal, Canada due to her mother’s teaching and research work. She graduated from the historically black Howard University, then attended law school at UC Hastings College of the Law before being admitted to the California Bar in 1990.

Deputy to DA

From 1990 to 2002, Harris worked her way up from deputy district attorney of Alameda County to various positions in San Francisco’s bustling Criminal Division, before landing in the office of San Francisco’s City Attorney, where she ran the Child and Family Services Division. In 2003, she was elected as the District Attorney of San Francisco, where she served until 2017.

In 2016, she announced her intention to run as a Democrat for Senator Barbara Boxer’s soon-to-be-vacant seat in the Senate. She was elected in November 2016, winning with more than 60% of the vote.

California’s Junior Senator

Even though Harris served in the Senate for just over two years, she has made a name for herself as a prominent face within the Senate Judiciary Committee, which appointed her as a member in January 2018. She was featured in media coverage for her questions to Brett Kavanaugh during his confirmation hearing for the Supreme Court, and for her tough questions during the 2020 impeachment trial of Donald Trump.

Senator Harris has been an active legislator during her time in the Senate, bringing forward bipartisan legislation on bail reform, workplace harassment, and election security. In June 2018, she introduced a new bill entitled “The Justice for Victims of Lynching Act of 2018,” which was co-sponsored by Senators Harris, Cory Booker (of New Jersey), and Tim Scott (of South Carolina).

Past, Present, and Future

Harris’s terms as DA and her record as a prosecutor in California are a key component of why many progressive Democrats, including many Black Americans and people of color, refused to support her bid for the Democratic nomination in 2019.

Despite her progressive work in the Senate, she has been dogged by accusations that she was slow to reform policing during her term as DA. She’s on the record opposing a softening of mandatory minimums, and refused to investigate several police shootings against the advice of many civil rights organizations.

Although many of us may take issue with her record from 20 years ago, the truth is Kamala Harris, in word and deed, is one of the most passionate and intelligent politicians working today. We’re excited to see more of her in the coming months, and to watch her and Joe Biden work together to – hopefully – take back the White House.

SEEMA WEEKLY COVER PHOTO: Associated Press

To read about the stories of more inspiring women in the political arena, check out this piece on South Asian Women in Politics

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