Vice President-elect Kamala Harris is America.
She is a patchwork quilt that so many proud Americans can relate to. Oh, yes, and she’s a woman—the first woman to be Vice President of America. She isn’t shattering a glass ceiling, she is doing much more than that, she is building a whole new edifice. She has a history of “firsts,” and the vice-presidency is just one more to add to that list.
Harris became the first Black American to represent California in the United States Senate. She was the first Black American and woman to serve as California’s Attorney General. Harris was also the first woman and person of color to serve as San Francisco’s district attorney. Now, she will serve as the first Black American and South Asian vice president.
Harris has a heart for people, a trait one can see comes from her early surroundings. Her father, Donald Harris was Jamaican and her mother, Shyamala Gopalan, was an Indian-American immigrant. Harris along with her sister, Maya, grew up in a predominantly Black neighborhood in Berkeley, California.
She grew up in a melting pot of cultures, raised and reared by highly-educated parents. Her mother was a biologist who worked on breast cancer research and her father was a professor emeritus of economics at Stanford University. It’s no doubt that the seeds of success and humanity were planted in her childhood.
Her parents met during the Civil Rights movement and were both activists. They took part in protests for civil rights, the Vietnam War and voting rights. When Harris and Maya were born, they observed their parents fighting for civil rights, which obviously left an impression. It’s stated in her bio on www.harris.senate.gov, “the example of courageous leaders like Thurgood Marshall, Constance Baker Motley, and Charles Hamilton Houston, Kamala learned the kind of character it requires to stand up to the powerful, and resolved to spend her life advocating for those who could not defend themselves.”
Her character was constantly being shaped as she received her education from Howard University and a law degree from the University of California, Hastings. At Howard University, she became a member of the Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority, an organization with 300,000 members, which has a rich history of promoting social activism. But often times, true character is revealed at home.
Harris is married to lawyer, Doug Emhoff, who will be the first “second gentleman” and the first Jewish spouse of a vice president. She is a stepmother to Cole and Ella, Emhoff’s children from a previous marriage. In an interview with Elle Magazine in 2019, Harris spoke about how she and her husband took their time introducing her into his children’s lives.
Here’s what Harris had to say about her blended family, “And I was determined not to insert myself in their lives until Doug and I had established we were in this for the long haul. Children need consistency; I didn’t want to insert myself into their lives as a temporary fixture because I didn’t want to disappoint them. There’s nothing worse than disappointing a child.”
This may seem like a small thing but it speaks largely of Harris’ character. She doesn’t take her responsibilities lightly and she doesn’t charge her way into situations either. She takes everything into consideration with her family and she plans to do the same thing with the country as well.
Harris is a longtime supporter and attendee of Bakewell Media and the L.A. Sentinel’s Taste of Soul Family Festival. Moving through a crowd of 350,000 plus, she never came across as campaigning. She chose to commune with people. She has a way of making people feel like they are a part of her family.
In 2015, she shared about Taste of Soul, “It’s one of the most enjoyable things I do all year, but it’s so important. Where else do you have all the community turn out and it’s about family, it’s about love of community, it’s about supporting our local businesses—it’s really one of the most important events all year in Los Angeles.”
During an interview held at the Sentinel in 2016 with California Black Publishers and Media on the importance of the Black vote, then Attorney General, Harris stated, “I learned a long time ago, that as a candidate, you can never get comfortable and that you have to run and continue running as if you are behind.”
She would go on to say what could be seen as a future prediction on her vice presidency win, “I have always and will continue to put my faith in God, not in polls, so me and my campaign will continue working and fighting to put the issues of this campaign before the people with the hope that we will be victorious in November.”
One may say Harris was destined to be on this path because she would set the tone for so many to follow. She has given possibility a face to women and people of color that many in the country recognize and see in the mirror. She is a woman of integrity, honor and grace.
Kamala Harris is our U.S. Vice President-elect, our American symbol of hope for a better tomorrow.