Photo by Clay Banks, accessed on

By Kendal Anderson

From Oakland, Calif. to the White House, Kamala Harris has been making waves and setting trends for young Black women everywhere. Most recently, in the 2020 general election where she was elected to be the 49th Vice-President of the United States and dating back to when she first entered into public service working for the District Attorney’s office of Alameda County, Calif. in 1990.
Harris was born to two immigrants. Her father, Donald Harris, came to the United States from Jamaica and her mother, Shyamala Gopalan Harris, came from India. She saw both of her parents as strong role models; her mother was a women’s rights activist and cancer researcher who she often quotes as a key part of her messages to the public and her father was a Stanford economics professor who studied issues on income inequality. After her parents divorced when she was a child, her father had less of an impact and so her mother took a central role in Harris’s life.
As a young adult, Harris attended Howard University, the oldest Black university in the US and got her bachelor’s degree in political science and economics. While she was at Howard University, she began her membership as a part of the Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc., the nations first Black sorority.
After that, she went to University of California, Hastings to get her law degree. She had resolved at a young age to spend her life defending those who could not defend themselves, according to her US Senate biography page. With her degree, she joined the District Attorney’s office for Alameda County, Calif. in 1990 until she transferred to the San Francisco District Attorney’s office in 1998.
While at the San Francisco District Attorney’s office, she worked hard to prosecute third strike offender and serial felons until 2003, when she made history as the first female elected as San Francisco’s District Attorney. During this time, she wrote her first published book titled Smart on Crime: A Career Prosecutors Plan to Make Us Safer.
After two terms as District Attorney of San Fransisco, she made history again when she was elected as the first African American and first woman to hold the position of District Attorney for the state of Calif. accord to the Calif. official’s allgov page.
As Calif.’s District Attorney, she proved herself to be ahead of her time on trying to create a re-entry program for nonviolent offender in the state’s prisons. The program worked to provide those prisoners a high school diplomas and a chance for employment. In this position, she was also able to win marriage equality in the state and was able to persecute transnational gangs that trafficked guns, drugs and humans.
In 2017, after serving for two terms as Calif.’s District Attorney, she was elected to represent Calif. in the US Senate. She was the only Black woman in the Senate and the second ever selected. In 2019, she published two more books, a children’s picture book titled Superheroes are Everywhere and a memoir titled The Truths We Hold: An American Journey.
Her Senate term was cut short in 2020 when she was elected to the position of the Vice President of the United States alongside President-elect Joe Biden. In this election, she once again makes history as the first woman, first Black American, and first South Asian American to hold the position.
Since the 2020 general election results were announced, she has already begun to make changes. On twitter, she announced her picks for the senior communications staff for the Biden-Harris administration. For the first time in history, the senior communications staff will be comprised entirely of women.
During the campaign for this election, Harris has met with Black activists, joined Black Lives Matter protests, and spoken out about women’s rights. She also spoke with many of the families of victims of police brutality. Ben Crump, a lawyer for many of these families, spoke out for them and for Harris, commenting that many victims of the injustice of the country’s criminal justice system championed for her and expected that she will champion for them.
All she’s done to break down barriers for Black people, South Asian people, and women has inspired people in these minority groups across the country. Kristianna DesChane, a young woman in Bellingham, Wash., said “no matter what she does in office, she has already paved the way for Black women to strive for positions of power.”
Harris also acknowledges that she wasn’t alone in getting to where she is. In a tweet she posted on Nov. 8, just a day after it was announced on CNN that she was the Vice-President-elect, she brought attention to those that paved the way for her. “I’m thinking about […] the generations of Black women that came before me who believed so deeply in an America where a moment like this is possible.”
Activist, Taylor Renee, who has participated in many of the Black Lives Matter protests in Harris’s hometown of Oakland, Calif., has said that having a person in the White House with the perspective of seeing the world through the eyes of a woman and a person of color can only benefit the country. With high hopes, she continues to support Kamala Harris, the Black-Asian American woman who has broken barriers in our nation.