Kamala Harris shattered one of the tallest glass ceilings in the United States on Wednesday, becoming the first woman, first black American, and first person of Asian descent to be named vice president, paving the way for the White House the most diverse of all time.
As current President Joe Biden’s running mate, she helped end Donald Trump’s turbulent reign, attacking him for his chaotic mess of the COVID-19 pandemic, last year’s unrest over racial injustices and its crackdown on immigration.
Harris, 56, comes to the job after already blazing a unique path, as California’s first black attorney general and the first woman of South Asian descent to be elected to the US Senate.
“A new chapter begins today,” Harris tweeted Wednesday. “Let’s get to work.”
As vice president, Harris will be a stone’s throw from leading the United States.
While Biden, 78, is expected to serve only one term, Harris would be favored to win the Democratic nomination in 2024, giving her a chance to make more history – as the first female president of the United States.
“While I may be the first woman to occupy this office, I will not be the last,” Harris said in a Nov. 7 speech, her first after U.S. networks cast Biden and Harris as the winners against Trump and his deputy Mike Pence.
Trump bitterly contested the results, peddling the lie that Democrats won only because of massive voter fraud.
During the campaign, he regularly attacked Harris, calling her a “monster” after his October debate with Pence. Asked about it, Harris sharply dismissed the president, “I’m not commenting on his childish words.”
While Harris has vigorously pushed back during the campaign, over the past two months she has weathered the fray, pivoting to the plans she and Biden unveil to help struggling families and fix a struggling economy.
Harris wrote on Twitter that she and Biden would put the United States on a “new path” and “bring the American people together.”
While the vice president’s job is often seen as ceremonial, Harris will also be pushed into the powerful role of ultimate decision-maker in the US Senate.
Thanks to two shock wins in the second round of the Democrats this month in Georgia, the Senate will be divided equally, 50 Democrats and 50 Republicans.
That means Harris can spend a lot of time on Capitol Hill voting the decisive vote on legislation on everything from running for justice to Biden’s $ 1.9 trillion stimulus package.
Harris was born to immigrants to the United States – her father from Jamaica and her mother from India – and their life and hers have in some ways embodied the American dream.
She was born on October 20, 1964 in Oakland, California, then a hub for civil rights and anti-war activism.
Her degree from Black Howard University in Washington, DC was the start of a steady ascent that took her from a two-term attorney elected to San Francisco District Attorney and then California Attorney General in 2010.
However, Harris’s self-description as a “progressive prosecutor” has been grabbed by critics who say she fought to uphold wrongful convictions and opposed some reforms in California, such as a draft. of law requiring the attorney general to investigate shootings involving police.
Still, Harris’ work has been essential in shaping a platform and profile from which she launched a successful campaign in the U.S. Senate in 2016, becoming the second black female senator in history.
Stint as Attorney General
Her time as attorney general also helped her bond with Biden’s son Beau, who held the same position in Delaware and died of cancer in 2015.
“I know how much Beau respected Kamala and her job, and that meant a lot to me, to be honest with you, because I made that decision,” Biden said during his first appearance with Harris as running mate.
Harris is brimming with charisma but can quickly switch from his broad smile to a prosecutor’s character to incessant questioning and sharp lines.
Clips went viral of his sharp 2017 interrogation of then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions at a hearing on Russia, and of Supreme Court candidate Brett Kavanaugh the following year.
Harris also clashed with Biden in the first Democratic debate, berating the former senator for his opposition to 1970s bus programs that forced the integration of separate schools.
“There was a little girl in California who was in second class to enter her public school, and she was bused to school every day,” she said. “And that little girl was me.
This confrontation didn’t stop him from choosing Harris, who brought that fiery energy to the campaign carefully managed by Biden.
During his only debate with Pence, Harris raised his hand as he tried to interrupt.
“Mr. Vice President, I am speaking. I’m talking, ”she said with a dark look.
Harris has no children of her own. But she claims the role of “momala” with the son and daughter of her husband Doug Emhoff.
Emhoff, a lawyer, would become the very first American “second gentleman” and the first Jewish wife of an American vice president.
As for her mother Shyamala Gopalan Harris, an Indian-born scientist who immigrated at 19, “maybe she didn’t quite imagine this moment,” Harris said in her November speech.
“But she believed so deeply in an America where a time like this is possible.”