Meet Kamala Harris, who may be the next US vice president
- Former US Vice President and presumptive Democratic nominee for President Joe Biden has picked Kamala Harris to join him on his ticket as his VP.
- Harris, a senator from California, was one of the many Democrats who had initially tossed their hats in the ring for president before bowing out in December 2019.
- She served as the district attorney of San Francisco and the attorney general of California before joining the Senate.
- She will be the first black woman and first South Asian American woman on a Democratic ticket.
- Take a look inside the life and career of Kamala Harris, Joe Biden's choice for VP.
- Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.
Kamala Harris was born in 1964 in Oakland, California, to graduates of the University of California, Berkeley. She has one younger sister, Maya.
Her mother, Shyamala Gopalan Harris, and father, Donald Harris, immigrated to the US from India and Jamaica, respectively. They met as graduate students at UC Berkeley and divorced when Harris was young.
Kelli Sullivan wrote for the Washington Post that Harris visited India on vacations and her mother cooked her and Maya Indian food at home. "My mother understood very well that she was raising two black daughters," she wrote in her 2019 biography ,"The Truths We Hold."
Both parents brought Harris to civil rights protests in Berkeley as a young child.
Harris spent a good portion of her childhood in Berkeley, where she attended the Thousand Oaks Elementary School. Her family lived in Montreal, Canada, for a few years before returning to the US.
As a young child, Harris took a bus that transported her to a neighborhood different from hers as part of Berkeley School District's desegregation efforts following the Civil Rights Era.
The goal of bussing - transporting students between different neighborhoods - was desegregation between white students and students of colour.
One of the most memorable moments of the Democratic presidential campaign came during a debate when Harris, addressing Biden, said, "There was a little girl in California who was part of the second class to integrate her public schools, and she was bused to school every day, and that little girl was me," before criticising Biden's opposition to bussing in the 1970s.
Biden responded, "I did not oppose busing in America. What I opposed is busing ordered by the Department of Education. That's what I opposed."
Nellie Bowles reported for The New York Times that Harris took a bus to a predominantly white neighborhood to attend Thousand Oaks Elementary School starting in 1970 when bussing was still in its early years.
Harris attended Howard University and the University of California, Hastings College of Law.
Harris was a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority at Howard. She told the Washington Post that she "became an adult" at the school.
The Los Angeles Times reported that Harris' political identity began to take shape at Howard, a historically Black university (HCBU).
ESPN Sportscentre anchor Stan Verrett tweeted today that when he was pledging Alpha Phi Alpha at Howard in 1986, "an ambitious young woman was pledging Alpha Kappa Alpha there that spring" and she is now the vice presidential nominee.
Harris worked at the Alameda County District Attorney's Office in Oakland for eight years, until 1998.
The Los Angeles Times' Michael Finnegan reported that she prosecuted murder, rape, assault, and drug cases in her first job after law school, as a deputy district attorney for Alameda County in Oakland.
Around the same time, Harris was also dating Willie Brown, then the California Assembly Speaker and the future mayor of San Francisco. The couple ended their relationship before Brown became mayor.
In 2003, Harris told SF Weekly that Brown, and their past relationship, was an "albatross hanging around [her] neck."
"His career is over; I will be alive and kicking for the next 40 years. I do not owe him a thing," she said.
On Tuesday, Brown said Harris should decline Biden's offers to join his ticket.
Harris served as District Attorney of San Francisco from 2004 to 2010.
Harris was the first woman to serve as district attorney of San Francisco, and the first black woman and South Asian American woman to hold that role.
In 2003, while running for the office, she said she would oppose the death penalty and she stuck to the campaign promise four months later, when the police officer Isaac Espinoza was fatally shot by a gang member. Other prominent California Democrats including Dianne Feinstein and Barbara Boxer criticized the decision, which Harris defended in an op-ed in the San Francisco Chronicle.
However, Meagan Flynn reported for the Washington Post that the death penalty is a "complex" part of Harris' legal career.
During her time as DA, she instituted "Back-to-Track," a reentry programme "aimed at reducing recidivism among low-level drug-trafficking defendants."
The programme, meant to last between 12 and 18 months, set goals defined by a personal responsibility program (PRP) tailored to each individual. The PRP measured parenting, educational, and professional achievements and required several hundred hours of achievement. In order to graduate from the programme, the participants were required to have secured employment, enrolled in school, and met their PRP requirements.
In 2011, Harris became the Attorney General of California.
Harris served as the attorney general of California for six years. During that time, she litigated against mortgage companies, for-profit colleges, and human trafficking, securing major settlements for the state.
US president Donald Trump donated to two of Harris' bids for attorney general, The Washington Post's Matt Viser reported, as did Ivanka Trump.
In her first year as AG, Harris supported a law signed by then-Republican Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger that fined parents of "chronically truant" children several thousand dollars for missing more than 10% of school without a valid excuse. The penalty also included jail time. At the time, Julianne Hing wrote for Color Lines that it was "likely to disproportionately affect communities of color." Harris apologised for supporting the law in 2019.
In 2015, she upheld the conviction of George Gage, a man currently serving 70 years in prison for assaulting his stepdaughter. Many spoke out against this, saying Gage might be innocent and that his conviction may have been based on unreliable testimonies.
In 2018, New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristoff called Harris a "flawed political leader" while discussing the case of Kevin Cooper, who is currently on death row for murder. Kristoff named Harris and former Gov. Jerry Brown as lawmakers who didn't allow "newly available DNA testing," and said new DNA evidence could potentially vindicate Cooper.
That same year, 2018, Harris said that California should allow DNA testing for Cooper's case.
In the past, civil rights groups have been critical about how Harris has responded to instances of police shootings, saying she needs to be stricter on excessive force by police officers.
A spokesperson for Harris did not immediately respond to Business Insider.
Harris has been a US senator since 2017 — the second Black woman and first South Asian woman to hold that office.
In the Senate, Harris serves on a number of different committees - the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, the Select Committee on Intelligence, the Committee on the Judiciary, and the Committee on the Budget.
She has often won praise for her prosecutorial lines of questioning during congressional hearings.
In May 2019, her fiery line of questioning during a congressional hearing on the Robert Mueller report made several headlines - specifically her tough treatment of Attorney General William Barr.
She is up for reelection in 2022.
Harris launched a bid for the Democratic nomination for president last year, and dropped out in December.
During her run, participants in an Insider poll said they viewed Harris as amongst one of the most progressive candidates in a crowded field of Democrats.
Business Insider's Eliza Relman previously wrote that her platform expressed support for universal paid leave, better wages for teachers, and a public option for healthcare.
Harris lives in Los Angeles with her husband, Doug Emhoff.
Emhoff, also a lawyer, is a very outspoken supporter of his wife.
When Harris announced she was ending her presidential run, he tweeted, "I've got you. As always."
Emhoff is a partner at DLA Piper. According to his company profile, he represents individuals as well as corporations in complex business, real estate, and intellectual property litigation.
The couple met on a blind date and have been married since 2014. Harris is a step-parent to Emhoff's two children from a previous marriage.
In an op-ed for Elle, Harris described her stepkids as "brilliant, talented, funny kids who have grown to be remarkable adults."
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