U.S. Senator Kamala Harris is trying to become the first woman elected as the country’s vice president after presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden selected her as his running mate.
The child of a father from Jamaica and a mother from India, both of whom immigrated to the United States, Harris is already the first Black woman and first South Asian American to be part of a U.S. presidential ticket.
The 55-year-old’s resume includes being the first Black attorney general of the state of California as well as the first woman to hold the job. Her 2016 election to a U.S. Senate seat representing California made her the first woman of South Asian heritage to do so.
Harris herself wanted to be in Biden’s position as the Democrat seeking to deny President Donald Trump another term and put the White House back in Democratic hands.
Her campaign had a strong start, with 20,000 people attending her kickoff rally in her hometown of Oakland, California. In early July 2019, she trailed only Biden in public opinion polls after drawing praise for her performance in one of the early debates against the then-large field of Democratic candidates.
But in the months that followed, her poll numbers steadily declined and in early December she announced she was dropping out of the race, citing difficulties in raising money for her campaign.
In March, just after Biden pulled ahead of Senator Bernie Sanders with a number of state primary wins, Harris gave Biden her endorsement in the race to be the Democratic presidential nominee, saying, “I believe in Joe.”
“One of the things that we need right now is we need a leader who really does care about the people and who can therefore unify the people,” Harris said. “And I believe Joe can do that.”
Biden, in announcing Harris as his choice to join him on the November ballot, described her Tuesday as “a fearless fighter for the little guy, and one of the country’s finest public servants.”
Harris earned an undergraduate degree from Howard University in Washington, D.C., a historically Black college where she joined the Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority. She went on to earn a law degree from the University of California, Hastings, before going to work in the Alameda County district attorney’s office.
Harris served two terms as district attorney of San Francisco before being elected California’s attorney general.
Her record in those California jobs has been a target of scrutiny, with critics faulting her for not enacting criminal justice reforms and not doing enough to investigate police shootings.
With those issues prominent in the United States with protesters carrying out months of demonstrations against police violence and inequality, Harris has been among lawmakers pushing legislation to enact police reforms on a national level.