Kamala Devi Harris (1964-) became the 49th Vice President of the United States on January 20, 2021. She is the first woman, first Asian-American, and first African-American to hold this position.
Harris was born on October 20, 1964, in Oakland, California. She’s of a mixed-race background: her mother was from India and her father is from Jamaica. She learned about Hinduism as a young child in Berkeley, surrounded by the civil rights movement. Her parents divorced when she was seven, and she moved to Montreal, Canada, at age 12, but would ultimately come back to the United States for college.
Harris studied economics and political science at Howard University and then went on to earn a law degree at the University of California Hastings School of Law in 1989. She worked as a prosecutor and then, in 2003, she was elected district attorney of San Francisco. In 2010 she became the first woman and the first African American to be California’s attorney general. In 2014, she married Doug Emhoff.
In the Senate
In 2016, Harris switched fully from law to politics and was elected Senator from California–the first South Asian American and the second black woman to be in the US Senate. She was most notable for her membership in the Judiciary Committee, where she gained fame for the pointed way she questioned witnesses.
The 2020 Election
Sen. Harris ran for President in the 2020 Democratic primaries, but she didn’t get the nomination. Though her 2020 presidential campaign fell short, the eventual Democratic candidate Joe Biden chose Harris as his vice-presidential running mate. Biden and Harris were competing against the incumbent Republican President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence.
The 2020 Presidential election was notable for taking place during the coronavirus pandemic. Despite the pandemic, a record-breaking number of Americans voted! Biden-Harris won the popular vote, getting the most votes of any US Presidential ticket ever (Trump-Pence got the second most votes that any ticket has ever received).
But the President and Vice President are decided by the electoral college vote, not the popular vote. In addition to winning the popular vote, the Biden-Harris ticket also got the most votes in the electoral college, so Biden was elected the next President of the United States, with Harris as his Vice President.