Kamala Harris has made history by becoming the first woman vice president of the United States. Harris will be the first Black woman and African American elected as the vice president.
Born to Jamaican father and an Indian mother, Harris is a former attorney general of California. She also becomes the first person of Indian descent to hold the national office in the United States.
Harris has been a rising star in Democratic politics for much of the last two decades. After Harris ended her own 2020 Democratic presidential campaign, Joe Biden tapped her as his running mate. They will be sworn in as president and Vice President on 20 January.
Harris’ mother, Shyamala Gopalan, was born in Chennai and moved to the United States to pursue a doctoral degree at University of California Berkeley. “When my mother Shyamala [Gopalan] stepped off a plane in California as a 19-year-old, she didn’t have much in way of belongings but she carried with her lessons from home, including ones she’d learned from her parents,” she said.
Kamala is Sanskrit for “lotus flower,” and Harris gave nods to her Indian heritage throughout the campaign. Harris said that her mother would take her and sister Maya to India because she wanted her daughters to understand where she had come from. The 55-year-old Senator recently took a trip down memory lane, recalling her mother’s attempts to “instil a love of good idli” in her and sister Maya.
Harris’ mother raised her daughters with the understanding the world would see them as Black women, Harris has said, and that is how she describes herself today. She attended Howard University, one of the nation’s historically Black colleges and universities, and pledged Alpha Kappa Alpha, the nation’s first sorority created by and for Black women.
She campaigned regularly at HBCUs and tried to address the concerns of young Black men and women eager for strong efforts to dismantle systemic racism.
Her victory could usher more Black women and people of color into politics.