As the holidays approach and we envision a
time of peace, love and caring I hope you, your
families and friends are well, safe and in a
peaceful place in your own lives. I hope the
division that marked our political scene has
become a thing of the past. I hope
we have entered a time of healing and
With this in mind let us read
the story of Kamala Harris. She is noteworthy
as the first female vice president and the first
woman of color in that role. She is notable in
many other ways. I have included here an
excerpt from Wikipedia that tells her story.
I’m sure we will learn a great deal more as
she takes her place in national government.
Kamala Devi Harris (/ˈkɑːmələ/ KAH-mə-lə; born October
20, 1964) is an American politician and attorney, the junior
United States senator from California, and the vice
president-elect of the United States.
A member of the Democratic Party, she will become vice
president on January 20, 2021, alongside President-elect
Joe Biden, having defeated incumbent president Donald
Trump and Vice President Mike Pence in the 2020 election.
She will be the United States’ first female vice president, the
highest-ranking female elected official in US history, and the
first Asian American and first African American vice
Born in Oakland, California, Harris graduated from
Howard University and the University of California, Hastings
College of the Law. She began her career in the Alameda
County District Attorney’s Office, before being recruited to
the San Francisco District Attorney’s Office and later the City
Attorney of San Francisco’s office. In 2003, she was elected
district attorney of San Francisco. She was elected Attorney
General of California in 2010 and re-elected in 2014. Harris
has served as the junior United States senator from
California since 2017.
Harris’ mother, Shyamala Gopalan, a biologist whose
work on the progesterone receptor gene stimulated
advances in breast cancer research, had arrived in the US
from Tamil Nadu in India in 1958 as a 19-year-old graduate
student in nutrition and endocrinology at the University of
California, Berkeley; Gopalan received her PhD in 1964. Her
father, Donald J. Harris, is a Stanford University professor
emeritus of economics, who arrived in the US from British
Jamaica in 1961 for graduate study at UC Berkeley, receiving
a PhD in economics in 1966. Along with her younger sister,
Maya, Harris lived in Berkeley, California, briefly on Milvia
Street in central Berkeley, then a duplex on Bancroft with a
significant Black population.
Her parents divorced when she was seven. Harris has said
that when she and her sister visited their father in Palo Alto
on weekends, other children in the neighborhood were not
allowed to play with them because they were Black. When
she was twelve, Harris and her sister moved with their
mother to Montreal, Quebec, Canada, where Shyamala had
accepted a research and teaching position at the McGill
University-affiliated Jewish General Hospital. She attended a
French-speaking primary school, Notre-Dame-des-Neiges,
and then Westmount High School in Westmount, Quebec,
graduating in 1981. After high school, in 1982, Harris
attended Howard University, a historically Black university in
Washington, DC While at Howard, she interned as a
mailroom clerk for California senator Alan Cranston, chaired
the economics society, led the debate team, and joined
Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority. Harris graduated from Howard
in 1986 with a degree in political science and economics.
Harris then returned to California to attend law school at
the University of California, Hastings College of the Law
through its Legal Education Opportunity Program (LEOP).
While at UC Hastings, she served as president of its chapter
of the Black Law Students Association. She graduated with a
Juris Doctor in 1989 and was admitted to the California Bar
in June 1990.
In 1990, Harris was hired as a deputy district attorney in
Alameda County, California, where she was described as “an
able prosecutor on the way up.” In February 1998, San
Francisco District Attorney Terence Hallinan recruited Harris
as an assistant district attorney. There, she became the chief
of the Career Criminal Division, supervising five other
attorneys, where she prosecuted homicide, burglary,
robbery, and sexual assault cases—particularly three-strikes
In 2002, Harris prepared to run for district attorney of San
Francisco against Hallinan (the incumbent) and Bill Fazio. In
the runoff, Harris pledged never to seek the death penalty
and to prosecute three-strike offenders only in cases of
violent felonies. Harris ran a “forceful” campaign, assisted by
former mayor Willie Brown, Senator Dianne Feinstein, and
others. Harris differentiated herself from Hallinan by
attacking his performance. Harris ran unopposed for a
second term in 2007. Before Harris took office, the felony
conviction rate was 50 percent; by 2009, it was 76 percent.
Convictions of drug dealers increased from 56 percent in
2003 to 74 percent in 2006.
Harris has said life imprisonment without parole is a
better and more cost-effective punishment than the death
penalty, and has estimated that the resultant cost savings
could pay for a thousand additional police officers in San
Nearly two years before the 2010 California Attorney
General election, Harris announced she planned to run.
She also stated she would only run if then-Attorney
General Jerry Brown did seek re-election. Brown instead
chose to run for governor and Harris consolidated support
from prominent California Democrats. Both of California’s
senators, Dianne Feinstein and Barbara Boxer, House
Speaker Nancy Pelosi, and other prominent Democrat
leaders endorsed her during the Democratic primary. In
the June 8, 2010 primary, she was nominated with 33.6
percent of the vote.
In the general election, she faced Republican Los
Angeles County District Attorney Steve Cooley who led
most of the race. Cooley ran as a nonpartisan, distancing
himself from Republican gubernatorial candidate Meg
Whitman’s campaign. The election was held November 2
but after a protracted period of counting mail-in and
provisional ballots, Cooley conceded on November 25.
Harris was sworn in on January 3, 2011; she is the first
woman, the first African American, and the first South
Asian American to hold the office of Attorney General in
the state’s history.
In November 2013, Harris launched the California
Department of Justice’s Division of Recidivism Reduction
and Re-Entry in partnership with district attorney offices in
San Diego, Los Angeles, and Alameda County. In March
2015, Harris announced the creation of a pilot program in
coordination with the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s
Department called “Back on Track LA”. Like Back on Track,
first time, nonviolent offenders between 18 and 30
individuals participated in the pilot program for 24–30
months. Assigned a case manager, participants received
education through a partnership with the Los Angeles
Community College District and job training services.
In February 2016, Harris won 78% of the California
Democratic Party vote for the US Senate at the party
convention. Three months later, Governor Jerry Brown
endorsed her. In the June 7 primary, Harris came in first
with forty percent of the vote and won with pluralities in
In the November 2016 election, Harris defeated
Sanchez, capturing over sixty percent of the vote, carrying
all but four counties. Following her victory, she promised
to protect immigrants from the policies of President-elect
Donald Trump and announced her intention to remain
Attorney General through the end of 2016.
Upon her election as Vice President of the United
States, Harris is expected to resign from her seat prior to
taking office on January 20, 2021.
In conclusion Let us look forward to the holiday season
as one that brings love, joy, health, safety and
for the Diversity Committee