Kamala Harris Shatters One of the Ultimate Glass Ceilings
Madeleine Chinery reports on Kamala Harris, the third woman to be chosen to run as vice president on a major presidential ticket, and the first to be on the winning ticket.
A Woman of Color in the Second Highest Office
The majority of Americans voted for Joe Biden and Harris, about five million more than those who voted for President Donald Trump.
This is a moment people thought would take a few more decades to arrive, the election of a woman of color to the second highest office in the nation.
Harris is the child of immigrants, with her mother from India and her father from Jamaica. She grew up in Oakland, Calif., and attended Howard University and the University of California, Hastings College of Law.
Harris has an impressive resume. In 2004, she was elected as San Francisco’s first person of color to serve as District Attorney. She ran unopposed for a second term.
In 2011, Harris ran for Attorney General of California, and spent two terms running the second largest judicial department in the country, second only to the United States judicial department.
In 2016, she was elected to the U.S. Senate, winning all but four counties in California. In 2018, Harris became known for her sharp questioning after being appointed to the Senate Judiciary Committee. Two of her most popular moments came when she grilled U.S. Attorney General Bill Barr during the Mueller investigation and her questioning of then Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh.
Initially, a Candidate In a Crowded Field
On Jan. 21, 2019, the senator announced her run for president of the United States, becoming one of 29 candidates vying for the Democratic Presidential nomination.
She was considered a top contender and was a force on the debate stage, clashing with Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard and her future running mate Joe Biden.
In one exchange with Biden, Harris confronted him about his previous comments on busing inner-city children to schools outside of their district citing her own experience as a student in the 1970s, which became a viral moment at the outset of the Democratic Party’s nomination battle. Biden called it “a mischaracterization of my position across the board.”
Dropping Out Early Before Becoming the VP Choice
Despite the jab, Biden selected her as his running mate in his third run for the presidency, and the first where he became his party’s nominee.
When Harris dropped out of the race in Dec. 2019, before the primaries had started, her name was floated as a potential vice presidential pick for the future Democratic nominee. She officially endorsed Biden in March and was announced as his running mate in August.
Biden has called himself a transitional candidate, a bridge to the next generation. Late 2019 media articles quoting his aides indicated Biden might only want to serve one term as president, but there has been no updated reporting about this possibility.
Whether he runs for a second term or not, Biden will likely be the last of his generation, the Silent Generation, to hold the presidency, and Harris may be the leader of the Democratic Party if she chooses to run for president in 2024.
Like most women in power, and especially those of color, the vice-president-elect is now a target for harassment related to her race and gender. Her colleague in the Senate, Georgia’s David Perdue purposely mispronounced and mocked her name at a Trump rally in October.
“I Won’t Be the Last”
Harris is married to lawyer Doug Emhoff, and is step-mother to his two adult children.
Emhoff is making history as well; he will be the first Second Gentleman and the first Jewish-American as part of the country’s presidential and vice-presidential couples.
Harris will be an inspiration for centuries as women continue to fight for equity in all aspects of life. She will serve as a symbol of hope for young children, and especially Black girls. Most of all, she will be proof that the “American Dream” of opportunity and success is possible.
As the vice-president-elect said in her victory speech, “I may be the first, but I won’t be the last.”