Quick Facts on Kamala Harris

Today marks the start of the Democratic National Convention, where later this week the Democratic party will officially nominate its candidates for President and Vice President of the United States. As we prepare to watch for notable speakers and newsworthy moments from the mostly virtual convention, we expect much of the attention to be trained on Joe Biden and Kamala Harris.

Kamala Harris is the first woman of color ever to be on a major party presidential ticket. There have only ever been two other women to be nominated as running mates on a major party, and of course, no woman has ever held either the presidency or the VP role. Here’s what you need to know about the woman in the running to make history:

  • Kamala Harris was born in Oakland, California in 1964 to a cancer researcher mother from India and an economist father from Jamaica. After studying economics and political science at Howard University in Washington D.C., Harris attended Hastings College of the Law in San Francisco. In 2003, following the start of her career as a prosecutor in Oakland, she was elected as District Attorney for San Francisco, becoming the first-ever African American District Attorney in California’s history.
  • Harris went on win her state’s election for Attorney General in 2011. She made history again in 2016 as the first Indian American, and only the second African American woman, elected to the Senate. As a Senator, Harris became known for her questioning style during a number of confirmation hearings, included that of then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Brett Kavanaugh.
  • In January 2019, Senator Harris announced her candidacy for the Democratic Party presidential nomination. She was the only Black woman in strong contention during the primary—a race that included a record-breaking six women. During her campaign, Harris notably displayed authenticity (which we also refer to as being a 360-degree candidacy), as she shared personal stories such as her “that little girl was me” debate moment. Her background as a prosecutor was a hurdle for her campaign—an example of the higher ethical standard that women candidates face. After nearly a year of campaigning, Harris ended her presidential bid in December of 2019.
  • Senator Harris quickly became a front-runner in Joe Biden’s closely watched search for a vice president after he secured the Democratic presidential nomination earlier this year. She was frequently the subject of sexist criticism for being “too ambitious,” or “too tough,” throughout the vetting process.
  • Upon the news of her addition to the Democratic ticket, Harris tweeted that she was “Humbled to be joining Joe Biden in the battle to defeat Donald Trump and build a country that lives up to our values of truth, equality, and justice.”
  • During her first joint appearance with Biden last week, Harris said she is “Mindful of all the heroic and ambitious women before me whose sacrifice, determination, and resilience makes my presence here today even possible.” She also recently shared a note about her mother via Twitter, again showing her authentic, 360-degree self as she said, “My mother always used to say, ‘Don’t just sit around and complain about things. Do something.’”

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