Vice President-Elect Kamala Harris is the history-making half of the Joe Biden ticket: The highest-ranking woman ever elected in the United States and the first Black woman to serve in her new job.
The 56-year-old California senator emerged as a rising Democratic Party star over the last two decades, winning her Senate seat after stints as San Francisco district attorney and California’s attorney general. She mounted her own run for the White House this year, taking the slot as Biden’s running mate once he secured the nomination to take on President Trump.
Harris learned about the Democratic ticket’s victory while out for a Saturday morning run.
“We did it, we did it Joe,” she said in a call to the incoming president. “You’re going to be the next president of the United States.”
Harris is the daughter of two civil rights activists: Mom Shyamala Gopalan, from India, and dad Donald Harris, from Jamaica. They met as students on the Berkeley campus of the University of California in the turbulent 1960s. The couple split when Harris and her sister were still young and were raised by their mother.
Harris has often said her mom became the most important influence on her life. And she has invoked the names of other Black women who created the path that she followed in politics and activism: Former New York Rep. Shirley Chisholm, the first Black candidate to seek a major party presidential nomination in 1972, along with educator Mary McLeod and civil rights proponent Fannie Lou Hamer.
“We’re not often taught their stories, but as Americans, we all stand on their shoulders,” she said in accepting the vice presidential nomination three months ago.
The political veteran attended the historically black Howard University, where she pledged the Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority — the nation’s first founded by and for Black women.
Harris is married to Doug Emhoff, a Jewish man whose children from a previous marriage refer to her as “Mamala.”
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