Kamala Harris Makes History as First Woman and Woman of Color as Vice President


Kamala Harris savoured the moment she became the first woman, and the first black and Asian American, to be vice-president-elect, with a very hearty laugh.

In a video posted to her social media she shares the news with President-Elect Joe Biden: "We did it, we did it Joe. You're going to be the next president of the United States!"

Her words are about him but the history of the moment is hers.

Just over a year ago, as the senator from California hoping to win the Democratic nomination for the presidency, she launched a potent attack on Joe Biden over race during a debate. Many thought it inflicted a serious blow on his ambitions. But by the end of the year, her campaign was dead and it was Mr. Biden who returned the 56-year-old to the national spotlight by putting her on his ticket.

Born in Oakland, California, to two immigrant parents - an Indian-born mother and Jamaican-born father - her parents divorced when she was five and she was primarily raised by her Hindu single mother, Shyamala Gopalan Harris, a cancer researcher and civil rights activist.

Her biracial roots and upbringing means she embodies and can engage with and appeal to many American identities. Those parts of the country which have seen rapid demographic change, enough change to alter a region's politics, see an aspirational symbol in her.

But it was her time at Howard University, one of the nation's preeminent historically black colleges and universities, which she has described as among the most formative experiences of her life.

Her career as a prosecutor is what made her a politician but brought with it political benefits and risks.

She began work in the Alameda County District Attorney's Office and became the district attorney - the top prosecutor - for San Francisco in 2003, before being elected the first woman and the first black person to serve as California's attorney general, the top lawyer and law enforcement official in America's most populous state.

She gained a reputation as one of the Democratic party's rising stars, using this momentum to propel her election as California's junior US senator in 2017.


On talk shows, she calls for changes to police practices across the US, on Twitter, she calls for the arrests of the police officers who killed Breonna Taylor, a 26-year-old African-American woman from Kentucky, and she speaks frequently about the need to dismantle systemic racism.

She has the law enforcement background but in addition to that she has often said that her identity makes her uniquely suited to represent those on the margins.

Now she has the chance to do just that and from inside the White House.