Kamala Harris' appointment as Joe Biden's vice presidential running mate was a big deal. She was the first Black woman and the first Asian American to be nominated for a major party’s presidential ticket. And now, as it's confirmed that the American people have voted them to govern their country, she's making history as the first ever female elected vice president.
— Kamala Harris (@KamalaHarris) January 22, 2019
Here's everything you need to know about Biden's right-hand woman.
1. She was the second black woman and first Indian woman elected to the US Senate
Harris' father is Jamaican and her mother is Indian. Her name (which is pronounced 'comma-la'), means lotus flower in Sanskrit. She says she's been called derogatory names many times and, while she doesn't discuss them often, her experiences are an important part of her and her politics. "I don't wear my experiences on my sleeve," she told the Los Angeles Times. "But my experiences do inform my perspective on the work I do, and on what I believe is possible."
Harris credits her mother with preparing her to break down barriers. "My mother had a saying ― 'you may be the first to do many things, make sure you aren't the last,'" Harris told CQ Roll Call. "We need to work to ensure the leaders reflect the people they are supposed to represent, and until we achieve that full representation, I think we should understand we are falling short of the ideals of this country."
2. She's not the only member of her family in politics
Harris' parents, who met at Berkeley, were active in America's civil rights movement. "We grew up always being told that you have a responsibility to serve," Harris told NBC News.
Harris' younger sister, Maya, worked for Hillary Clinton's campaign as an attorney and senior policy adviser.
3. She has an impressive legal background
After graduating from Howard University in Washington, DC, Harris attended the University of California's Hastings College of the Law. Her first job after graduating was as a deputy district attorney.
In 2003, she was elected as the first female district attorney of San Francisco. In 2011, she went on to serve as California's attorney general. She faced controversy when she refused to seek the death penalty against a man who killed a police officer.
She also launched San Francisco's 'Back on Track' initiative, which aimed to reduce criminals from re-offending, by offering job training and other life skills education to low-level defendants as an alternative to prison.
4. She made history as California's attorney general
Harris was both the first woman and the first person of colour to hold that position in California. She launched the California Department of Justice's Open Justice website to increase law enforcement transparency and public access to information about in-custody deaths.
5. She took a big stand for marriage equality
One of her most significant moves as attorney general of California came when she helped preserve same-sex marriage rights in the state prior, standing against 2008's Proposition 8, a ballot measure banning gay marriage, which was approved by California voters.
Harris said: "The Supreme Court has described marriage as a fundamental right 14 times since 1888. The time has come for this right to be afforded to every citizen."
6. She had high-profile endorsements during her own campaign
Harris was endorsed by Barack Obama. After her 2016 win in seizing California’s open US Senate seat, Harris immediately started looking to the future and how she could continue to inspire voters in her new role. "Whatever the results of the presidential election tonight, we know that we have a task in front of us. We know the stakes are high," Harris said on 2016 election night. "When we have been attacked and when our ideals and fundamental ideals are being attacked, do we retreat or do we fight? I say we fight!"
7. She gained worldwide attention for her role in the Senate Intelligence Committee's hearings
Though quickly made an impact during her first term in the US Senate. She's a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee and played an active role in the Senate's hearings regarding Russia and the Trump administration, dogged in her questioning of high-profile figures, including Attorney General Jeff Sessions, to get real answers to her questions.
Harris was interrupted and criticised repeatedly by her Republican colleagues, even though she had to speak within a strict time limit. After the hearing, former Trump campaign adviser Jason Miller accused Harris of being "hysterical."All of the attention only helped Harris rise to greater prominence on the national stage.
8. She's frequently compared to Barack Obama
Before she ran for her Senate seat, Harris was already reportedly being considered as a candidate to step onto a bigger stage. Previously, she was discussed as a possible running mate for Hillary Clinton.
As the Huffington Post notes, she's been frequently compared to Obama, who ran for president during his first term as a senator.
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