Kamala Harris: journey to the White House

Pauline Alterio, Social Media and Website Manager

Four years after the first female presidential nominee ran for office, Kamala Harris stood in the US Capitol and was sworn in as the first female vice president: the first woman ever to hold a position of this power in the White House office.

For many, this was an emotional moment in United States history. Women all across the country and globe were looking up to see their own kin preside in a position historically left only to men. However, this was not Kamala Harris’ first time breaking barriers. As a woman, and one of color at that, Harris had – and still has – to endure systemic racism and never-ceasing misogyny to forge her career and path. With this in mind, let’s take a look at her life before the White House.

Kamala Harris was born in 1964 to the immigrant parents of Shyamala Gopalan and Donald J. Harris. Throughout Harris’ youth, she attended dozens of civil rights protests with her progressive, left-wing parents, of whom the former said gave her a deep appreciation for multiculturalism and a “stroller’s-eye” of the civil rights movement. 

Even after Kamala’s parents split, Harris continued to experience the diverse and manifold side of America, and was able to obtain first-hand knowledge of the struggles of women and people of color all around the world.

It was through these childhood experiences that spurred Harris into studying law at Howard University and eventually became the District Attorney for San Francisco and Attorney General for the state of California. In these positions, Harris was responsible for creating and reforming several programs for her precincts, mainly aimed at keeping individuals out of prison through rehab and therapy. Though her record has become controversial and was often times spotty (as DA, Harris ran against the death penalty, but defended the punishment as AG), Kamala believes these roles were where she gained her voice that would lead to her actions as a US Senator, where she has argued for police reform: the basis of a bill in which she recently co-sponsored.

Though her 2020 bid for president ultimately ended in defeat, Harris was eventually chosen as the running mate for now President Joe Biden. 

Using the strength and courage she gained as a Black woman in America, Harris catapulted the Democratic Party to victory in the 2020 Presidential Election, which she ended in a white suffragist suit, gratitude to the countless Black women in the United States who serve as the “backbone of our democracy,” and a final promise: “I may be the first woman to hold this office. But I won’t be the last.”