Wednesday night was Sen. Kamala Harris' time to shine at the Democratic National Convention as she assumed the role of the party's vice presidential nominee. Before she gave her acceptance speech, the California senator got a lift from her family.
A biographical montage for Harris' family life was jointly presented by her sister, Maya Harris, her niece Meena Harris and her stepdaughter Ella Emhoff, who called her "Momala, the world’s greatest stepmom.”
“Growing up, heaven help the poor kid that picked on me," said Maya, as the montage showed photos of the Harris sisters as young girls raised primarily by their immigrant mother from India, Shyamala Gopalan Harris, a cancer researcher.
“Now, we’ve got your back," Maya said.
Gopalan married Donald Harris, an economist from Jamaica. The pair separated when Kamala was 5.
Meena Harris praised Kamala as a strong, "fierce" role model for her own two daughters.
“I love you, I admire you, I am so proud of you, and even though Mommy’s not here to see her first daughter to step into history,” Maya Harris said, the entire nation “will see the values she raised us with."
Maya Harris played a key role in her sister's political rise as an advisor as early as Harris' successful 2003 bid to become San Francisco's district attorney. At the time, Maya was serving as director of the Racial Justice Project for the ACLU’s Northern California chapter.
Maya Harris later served as the chair of her sister's 2020 presidential run, which failed amid reports of conflicts between her and other staffers over strategy.
Maya's daughter, Meena, has founded her own lifestyle brand and recently served in a leadership position for the diversity and inclusion team for Uber, the ride-hailing company, which is locked in a contentious battle with California regulators over its refusal to designate its drivers as employees rather than contractors.
Maya Harris' husband, Tony West, has worked for Uber specifically to aid its opposition to California's bid to reclassify drivers, which Kamala Harris has publicly supported. ("Mr. West has never lobbied Sen. Harris, her Senate office or anyone on her campaign on this or any other issue,” an Uber spokesman told The Times in 2019.)
Ella Emhoff is the daughter of Harris' husband, L.A. entertainment lawyer Doug Emhoff, from a previous marriage. Doug Emhoff was a visible but low-key presence on the campaign trail during Harris' presidential run, winning an online fandom for wearing supportive T-shirts and tweeting candid photos of the candidate behind the scenes.