Black Women in History: Kamala Harris
Photo: Harris being sworn in as vice president on January 20, 2021
Kamala Devi Harris (/ˈkɑːmələ/ (About this soundlisten) KAH-mə-lə /ˈdeɪvɪ/ DAY-vee; born October 20, 1964) is an American politician and attorney who is the 49th and current vice president of the United States. She is the United States' first female vice president, the highest-ranking female elected official in U.S. history, and the first African American and first Asian American vice president.
A member of the Democratic Party, she served as a United States senator from California from 2017 to 2021, and as the attorney general of California from 2011 to 2017. Harris became vice president upon inauguration in January 2021 alongside President Joe Biden, having defeated the incumbent president, Donald Trump, and vice president, Mike Pence, in the 2020 election.
Born in Oakland, California, Harris graduated from Howard University and the University of California, Hastings College of the Law. She began her career in the Alameda County District Attorney's Office, before being recruited to the San Francisco District Attorney's Office and later the City Attorney of San Francisco's office. In 2003, she was elected district attorney of San Francisco. She was elected Attorney General of California in 2010 and re-elected in 2014. Harris served as the junior United States senator from California from 2017 to 2021. Harris defeated Loretta Sanchez in the 2016 Senate election to become the second African American woman and the first South Asian American to serve in the United States Senate. As a senator, she advocated for healthcare reform, federal de-scheduling of cannabis, a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants, the DREAM Act, a ban on assault weapons, and progressive tax reform. She gained a national profile for her pointed questioning of Trump administration officials during Senate hearings, including Trump's second Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, who was accused of sexual assault.
Harris sought the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination, but dropped out of the race prior to the primaries. Biden selected Harris as his running mate in August 2020.
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