There has never been a female vice president of the United States. This election may be different.
Kamala Harris, who serves as a United States Senator for California and Joe Biden’s vice-presidential running mate, may make history this election: if Biden wins Harris would become the first female vice president of the United States, a new hallmark of American history that could set the standard for future women—including women of color—to take office. Her journey to election day is a story rooted in her hardworking immigrant family who pushed her to pursue law and later become a government representative, as she said in a New York Times interview.
Her mother, Shyamala Gopalan Harris, immigrated to America from Chennai, India. She first attended the University of California at Berkeley, where she chased her ambitious goal of curing cancer. Gopalan conducted breast cancer research at the University of California at Berkeley, fueling her passion for the intellect she would pass onto her children.
While studying at Berkeley, Gopalan met and fell in love with Donald Harris, a Jamaican immigrant, whom she married soon thereafter. Together they had two daughters named Kamala and Maya.
“My mother used to say, don’t sit around and complain about things; do something,” said Harris at an Oakland kick-off rally.
When Kamala was only 5 years old, her parents divorced. Though busy as a newly single mother with a demanding career, Gopalan worked hard to provide for both daughters and taught them to fight for racial justice during the 1960s American Civil Rights period.
Harris went on to attend Howard University, where she graduated in 1986, and UC Hastings College of the Law just three years later. She then became a lawyer, advocating for social justice and equality.
With her ethnic heritage in mind, Harris became the first South Asian-American senator in history. In 2003 she became the District Attorney of San Francisco, where she allowed first-time felons the opportunity to earn a high school diploma and seek employment for themselves.
After two full terms, Harris was elected as California’s Attorney General. Now she boasts an armload of accomplishments: winning a $25-billion settlement to help the victims of the home foreclosure crisis, protecting California’s climate change law, keeping the Affordable Care Act in place and attaining Californian marriage equality.
Harris shifted into the public eye when she announced her 2020 candidacy for president. She ran as a Democrat and proposed to enact new environmental regulations, support working class families and, most importantly, fight issues of discrimination and systematic racism that have existed since the dawn of America’s establishment.
She dropped out of the presidential race during the March primaries but stayed involved by continuing to give speeches and participate in live interviews. Harris openly endorsed Biden once it was clear he would finish as the Democratic Party’s nominee.
Democrats anxiously awaited Biden’s choice for VP in the late weeks of July, which quickly turned into the first week of August. He had announced that he would choose a woman, and the party debated between Sen. Amy Klobuchar, Sen. Elizabeth Warren, Rep. Val Demings and Sen. Kamala Harris. The announcement was finally made public on Tuesday, Aug. 11.
When Biden picked Harris as his running mate, she made history as the “first woman of color to be nominated for national office by a major political party” according to The New York Times. She is the first Black woman—because of her Jamaican descent—and the first person of Indian descent to be nominated for a major political party. Harris’ nomination crossed unprecedented boundaries that will hopefully inspire young women in the future. America has normalized electing white male presidents, so Harris’ vice presidency would be a step forward.
Harris happily accepted the nomination for vice presidential nominee of the Democratic Party, and she would later do so officially in her Democratic National Convention speech.
Biden broke the news in an email he wrote to his campaign supporters on Tuesday, the email read, “Joe Biden here. Big news: I’ve chosen Kamala Harris as my running mate. Together, with you, we’re going to beat Trump.”