Kamala Harris continues to break the glass ceiling

Photo courtesy: Facebook/Kamala Harris
Photo courtesy: Facebook/Kamala Harris

The announcement was as expected - Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden choosing current California Senator Kamala Harris as his running mate as he makes a bid for the White House. 

Breaking barriers and making history is nothing new for Harris - she has in fact made a career of it. The first woman district attorney of San Francisco, the first woman attorney general of California, the first Indian-American in the US Senate - she has done it all. And, come November 3, she could become the first woman of colour to be Vice-President of the United States. 

Her nomination as running mate has brought into focus her origins and her ethnic outreach - her appeal to the African-American community through her father’s Jamaican heritage and her connection with the Indian-American community via her mother’s Indian roots. 

Sections of the Indian diaspora in the United States welcomed her selection as running mate with rapturous joy. Pepsico chief Indra Nooyi hailed the nomination, tweeting that Harris is "brilliant, loving and committed to building America's future".

"Kamala Harris's story is the story of a changing, inclusive America...Her candidacy is historic and inspiring, not only for Black Americans, but for millions of Asian American voters, the fastest growing voting bloc in the country," said Neil Makhija, executive director of, IMPACT, a leading Indian-American advocacy group and a Political Action Committee.

Background

Born in Oakland, California, Harris is the daughter of Shyamala Gopalan, an Indian-origin cancer researcher from Chennai and Donald Harris, a Stanford University economics professor who emigrated from Jamaica.

A graduate of Howard University and University of California, Hastings College of the Law, Harris 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 the 27th district attorney of San Francisco - the first woman to hold that position. In 2010, she became the first female Attorney General of California, and was re-elected in 2014. 

In November 2016, she became California's third female senator, the second African-American woman and the first South Asian–American to serve in the United States Senate.

2020 US Presidential bid

Harris was briefly a frontrunner for the Democratic nomination for President of the United States but she struggled to stay ahead in a packed field of stalwarts like Biden, Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders.

In November 2019 her cash-strapped bid laid off staff at its Baltimore HQ, New Hampshire and her home state and in December of that year she ended her presidential campaign, citing a lack of funds to continue.

However, Biden had all along maintained that were he to be nominated as the Democrat Presidential nominee, he would in all likelihood pick Harris as his running mate, calling her "an incredible talent with unlimited potential".

Harris on her part is a key component of the Democratic bid for the presidency, with an appeal to two big non-white communities in the country. While many see her as more dominantly appealing to the African-American community, Harris has made no bones about the fact that she values her Indian heritage as strongly. 

Many will remember her viral video making masala dosas with popular comedian, actress, producer and writer Mindy Kaling. 

The Biden campaign has its work cut out ahead of the November 3 polls, expected to be a closely and bitterly fought election, but whatever the result, Harris certainly continues her trend as a breaker of the glass ceiling.

Author
CtoI News Desk
CtoI News Desk – CtoI

Singapore-headquartered online media company targeting Indian Diaspora across Singapore, US, UK and Dubai. Connected to India covers developments around Indians abroad, informing, engaging and entertaining its audiences.

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