Making history as the first Indian-American and second African-American woman to serve as the Senator of California, Harris has become a largely prominent figure in the American political party system.
Kamala Devi Harris grew up in Berkeley, California, several miles away from her birthplace in Oakland, California. As her parents divorced when she was 7 years old, Harris often visited her father on the weekends in Palo Alto, before moving to Montreal, Canada until her high school graduation in 1981.
Continue reading to explore more about Kamala Harris’ childhood, and what her journey looks like from a little girl in Oakland to her 2020 presidential campaign.
Harris was born in 1964 on the 20th of October to her Jamaican father Donald Harris, and Indian mother Shyamala Gopalan. Both of her parents immigrated to America in the early 1960s.
Gopalan arrived in the US to establish a career in endocrinology, later achieving a doctorate at UC Berkeley and becoming a research scientist in the field of breast cancer. Mr. Harris emigrated from his homeland of Jamaica in ‘61 and also studied at UC Berkeley, eventually becoming a Professor of Economics at Stanford University.
As she commenced kindergarten, Harris found herself in Berkeley’s school desegregation busing program, where she could ride the bus to school that had previously been mainly exclusive to white students.
Around 5 years after her parents divorced, her mother decided to make the move to Montreal in Quebec, Canada with Kamala and her sister Maya Harris.
Upon her graduation from high school in ‘81, Kamala moved back to the US and went to Howard University in Washington D.C.
Embracing Both Cultures
In addition to visiting Jamaica to meet with the extended family of her father, Harris became heavily immersed in African-American communities in her hometown growing up.
She sang in the choir with her younger sister, and went to a Black Baptist Church with her family.
Harris’ frequent participation and involvement in the African-American community certainly didn’t stop her from discovering her Indian heritage as well.
Her mother often brought her to worship in Hindu temples, and she also visited India on several occasions. She was reportedly quite close with P.V Gopalan, her maternal grandfather, who worked for the federal Government of India as a civil servant.
Having grown up amongst two different cultures, Harris was asked by CNN in 2013 if she ever struggled with identity as a child. “Oh, not once,” she replied, adding, “we were raised to believe we could do anything, and I have the blessing of being raised in a community and a family that constantly nurtured that belief.”
Watch the entire interview with Kamala below:
No Slowing Down
Following her studies, she started a career at the District Attorney’s Office in Alameda County as a Deputy in 1990. This then led to her position as District Attorney of the City and County of San Francisco in ‘03, being the first African-American and woman to do so.
In 2010 things really started to take off, as she was selected to be the Attorney General of California winning by less than 1 percent.
In January of 2019, Harris made the decision to run for president. She made the announcement on Good Morning America on Martin Luther King Jr. Day, and “For the People” was her slogan during the campaign.
Even though her 2020 presidential bid was unsuccessful, Harris shows no signs of slowing down. There is some speculation that she could be the Vice President next to Joe Biden if he wins his own 2020 campaign, as she has extensive experience to be able to take on the role.
In terms of her personal life, Harris is married to Douglas Emhoff who is a lawyer and partner at DLA Piper Law Firm specializing in intellectual property law.
They are pictured together here with Emhoff’s two children from his previous marriage.