Vice President Kamala Harris: Woman Of Many Firsts

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Who in the world is Kamala Harris, and why should I care?
  • This new vice president’s most important job is to be the last person in the room — just as Vice President Joe Biden did for President Barack Obama.
  • Her job as Vice President will be breaking tie votes in the Senate and stepping in when the president is unable to fulfill his responsibilities.
  • She will lead commissions and other efforts to emphasize Biden’s viewpoint.
  • She will travel abroad as a high-level emissary.
Screen-Shot-2021-01-12-at-4.48.47-PM Vice President Kamala Harris: Woman Of Many Firsts Activism Featured Feminism Politics Top Stories
SOURCE: Screenshot via YouTube.
 What Shaped Her?
  • Her mother came to the US from India at the age of 19 to study. During her college years, she met Harris’ father, a professor.
  • Her fraternal grandmother was an activist as was her own mother who became a cancer research scientist. She died in 2009 of cancer.
  • Her father Donald J. Harris was originally from Jamaica. He is a Stanford University professor emeritus of economics with a Ph.D. in economics.
  • Harris’ best friend confided she had been molested by her stepfather. Harris told her mother, who insisted her friend come to live with them for the remainder of her final year of high school. Harris told her friend playing a role in fighting against exploitation then helped form her actions protecting women and children as a prosecutor.

Her Quote:

In a Good Morning America interview, Harris said:

‘I was raised that, when you see a problem, you don’t complain about it, you go and do something about it.’

What You Do Not Know — Yet

  • Her mother’s mother was an activist. Her mother was an activist. Her sister is an activist.
  • Her maternal grandfather P. V. Gopalan, a retired Indian civil servant had progressive views on democracy and women’s rights. These impressed her.
  •  Her mother studied nutrition and endocrinology at the University of California, Berkeley where she met Harris’ father.
  • Gopalan received her Ph.D. in 1964.
  • When Harris started kindergarten, she was among the first children bused in the desegregation program.
  • A neighbor regularly took the Harris girls to an African American church in Oakland where she and her sister sang in the children’s choir.
  • Their mother introduced them to Hinduism and took them to a nearby Hindu temple, where she occasionally sang.
  • Her parents divorced when she was seven.
  • When the sisters visited their father in Palo Alto on weekends, other children in the neighborhood were not allowed to play with them because they were Black.
  • In Sanskrit, her name means “lotus.” It is also “another name for the Hindu goddess Lakshmi—and the empowerment of women.”
  • She married Doug Emhoff, a corporate lawyer in Los Angeles. Emhoff has two children from his previous marriage, and they call Harris “Momala.”
  • Emhoff will be the Second Gentleman, just as Dr. Jill Biden was the Second Lady.

Quotes about Her

The Politico’s Catherine Kim and Zack Stanton wrote that in Montreal:

‘A 13-year-old Harris and her younger sister, Maya, led a successful demonstration in front of their apartment building in protest of a policy that banned children from playing on the lawn.’

  • The Vogue Editor-in-Chief Anna Wintour was criticized for the more casual cover image of Harris. Wintour said:

‘When the two images arrived at Vogue, all of us felt very, very strongly that the less formal portrait of the Vice President-elect really reflected the moment that we were living in. We are in the midst…of the most appalling pandemic that is taking lives by the minute, and we felt to reflect this tragic moment in global history, a much less formal picture, something that was very, very accessible, and approachable, and really reflected the hallmark of the Biden-Harris campaign…’

Education

  • When she was twelve, Harris and her sister moved with their mother to MontrealQuebecCanada for a new job at McGill University-affiliated Jewish General Hospital.
  • She attended a French-speaking primary school, Notre-Dame-des-Neiges, F.A.C.E. School, and then Westmount High School in Westmount, Quebec, graduating in 1981.
  • Attended Howard University, a historically Black university in Washington, D.C.
  • At Howard, she interned as a mailroom clerk for California Senator Alan Cranston (D), chaired the Economics Society, and led the debate team.
  • She graduated in 1986 with a degree in political science and economics.
  • Harris attended law school at the University of California, Hastings College of the Law.
  • She was President of its chapter of the Black Law Students Association. She graduated with a Juris Doctor in 1989.
  • The new VP was admitted to the California Bar in June 1990.

Career

  • Alameda County District Attorney’s Office,
  • The San Francisco District Attorney’s Office recruited her in 2010
  • Harris has served as the junior United States senator from California since 2017.
  • As a senator, she has advocated healthcare reform, federal de-scheduling of cannabis, a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants, the DREAM Acta ban on assault weapons, and progressive tax reform.
  • She rose to prominence questioning Trump administration officials during Senate hearings, including Trump’s second Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, accused of sexual assault.
  • Harris ran in the 2020 Democratic presidential election but dropped out before the primaries
  • She is the United States’ first female vice president, the highest-ranking female elected official in U.S. history, and the first Black and first Asian American vice president.

How She Works

  • She specialized in prosecuting child sexual assault cases when she was working for San Francisco’s City Attorney Louise Renn.
  • She was the first Black person elected District Attorney in San Francisco.
  • She was also the first Black American and first Asian American to serve as California’s attorney general.
  • She refers to herself as a “progressive prosecutor.”

She is the fourth in the series Meet The Women of Joe Biden’s Administration: Kamala Harris. I hope you enjoy hearing about this remarkable woman as much as I enjoyed writing them. You will like her.

Sources

  • https://ge.usembassy.gov/what-do-u-s-vice-presidents-do/
  • https://www.cnn.com/style/article/kamala-harris-vogue-cover-anna-wintour-response/index.html
  • https://abcnews.go.com/Politics/kamala-harris-latest-democrat-run-president/story?id=60521324
  • https://www.nytimes.com/2020/08/11/us/politics/kamala-bio.html
  • https://www.nytimes.com/2017/06/13/us/politics/kamala-harris-interrupted-jeff-sessions.html
  • https://www.politico.com/news/magazine/2020/08/11/kamala-harris-vp-background-bio-biden-running-mate-2020-393885
  • https://www.mercurynews.com/2019/05/07/kamala-harris-high-school-montreal-canada-yearbook/
  • https://news.yahoo.com/dr-jill-biden-know-america-203650493.html
  • https://bioguideretro.congress.gov/Home/MemberDetails?memIndex=c000877

Featured image is a screenshot via YouTube.

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