What you need to know about Kamala Harris

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Kamala Harris made history today as the first female Vice President, but also the first woman of colour.

This is undoubtedly an incredible milestone for the US presidential system and will stand as a remarkable day in history for many years to come.

Here is everything you need to know about the new Vice President:

Name: Kamala Devi Harris

Date of Birth: 20 October 1964

Hometown: Oakland, California

Education: Howard University and the University of California

As a child, Harris went to a Black Baptist church and a Hindu Temple. “My mother understood very well that she was raising two black daughters,” Harris wrote in her autobiography, “she was determined to make sure we would grow into confident, proud black women.”

Her parents divorced when she was seven. She first attended a French-speaking primary school, differing in schools as she progressed and grew, until graduation in 1981.

Best friend of Harris, Wanda Kagan, lived in the Harris family home during the final year of high school. This was after Kagan confided in Harris about being molested by her stepfather. It was then that Harris’ mother insisted that Kagan move into the family home. Harris later told Kagan that their friendship helped form her commitment in protecting women and children as a prosecutor.

In 1986, Harris graduated from Howard University in with a degree in political science and economics and then returned to California to attend Hastings College of Law. In 1989, she then graduated with a Juris Doctor.

Harris’ family were initially skeptical of her career choice. Despite knowing the history of prosecutors holding bad reputations, she wanted to change the system from the inside.

After passing the California Bar Exam in 1990, she joined the Almeda County Prosecutor’s Office in Oakland as an assistant district attorney to focus on sex crimes.

Harris started dating Speaker of the California Assembly, Willie Brown. He appointed her to the State Unemployment Insurance Appeals Board and later to the California Assistance Commission. Brown was elected mayor of San Francisco in 1995 but that December, Harris and Brown separated.

After being recruited as an assistant district attorney in February 1998, she became Chief of the Career Criminal Division, prosecuting homicide, burglary, robbery and sexual assault cases, focusing on girl’s as victims rather than criminals selling sex.

In 2004, Harris made history as the first black woman to be elected district attorney, pledging to never seek the death penalty.

Between 2005 and 2006, she created an Environment Crimes Unit and a Hate Crimes Unit, focusing on hate crimes against LGBT children and teens in school.

She served as a general attorney in California from 2011-2017.

In 2013, Harris met current husband, Doug Enhoff, on a blind date. They then married the following year.

Elected to the Senate in 2016, she become the first black woman in the chamber in more than a decade.

Harris was a vocal supporter of racially justice legislation in response to the killing of George Floyd, supporting proposals to overhaul policing and to make lynching a federal crime.

In November 2020, she became the first woman and first woman of colour to be elected Vice President of the United States.

Her motto comes from her mother, “You may be the first, but make sure you’re not the last.”

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