Democratic VP nominee “stands on the shoulders of one unsung woman — her India born mother.”
Win or lose, Kamala Harris, daughter of an Indian mother and a Jamaican father, is poised to make history yet again as America decides Tuesday to keep or replace President Donald Trump.
Democratic presidential challenger Joe Biden’s trailblazer running mate at 56 is used to making history time and again. She is the first black and South Asian woman to run for a job a heartbeat away from the world’s most powerful office.
Before that she scripted history as California’s first Black attorney general and the first woman of South Asian heritage elected to the US Senate.
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Chosen in August as Biden’s running mate, she fondly remembered one unsung woman on “whose shoulders I stand on. And that’s my mother—Shyamala Gopalan who came here from India at age 19 to pursue her dream of curing cancer.”
Gopalan told Kamala growing up “Don’t sit around and complain about things, do something.” She has finally done more than something.
Gopalan met Kamala’s would be father, Donald Harris, who had come from Jamaica to study economics at the University of California Berkeley.
“They fell in love in that most American way—while marching together for justice in the civil rights movement of the 1960s,” Harris recalled.
READ: Kamala Harris effect galvanizes Indian American voters (October 14, 2020)
Born on Oct, 20, 1964 in Oakland, California, then a hub for civil rights and anti-war activism, Harris got “a stroller’s-eye view of people getting into what the great John Lewis called ‘good trouble.’”
When she was 5, her “parents split and my mother raised us mostly on her own” working “around the clock to make it work.”
“She made it look easy, though I know it never was,” Harris said. “My mother instilled in my sister, Maya, and me the values that would chart the course of our lives.”
Her mother, Harris said had “raised us to be proud, strong Black women, proud of our Indian heritage.”
She also taught Harris “to put family first” including “my uncles, my aunts—my chitthis” — as mother’s younger sister is affectionately called in her native Tamil — while looking at the “world beyond ourselves.”
Harris graduated from historically Black Howard University in Washington and earned a law degree from the University of California, Hastings College of Law.
Starting her prosecutorial career in Alameda County District Attorney’s Office, she became the first Black woman elected as San Francisco’s District Attorney in 2003.
Seven years later, Harris became the first Black woman to be elected California Attorney General, overseeing the country’s second largest Justice Department, only behind the US Department of Justice.
Harris currently serves on the Senate committees on Intelligence, Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs as also Judiciary.
Harris has been married to her husband Doug for the past six years. She is the stepmother of two children, Ella and Cole who she says are her “endless source of love and pure joy.”