By Whitney Gresham
In a historic decision foreshadowing a renewed commitment to social and racial justice in a possible Biden Administration, Democratic Vice Presidential nominee Joe Biden picked United States Senator Kamala Harris D-CA, to be his Vice Presidential running mate for November’s Presidential election.
Harris, 55, and the former California attorney general is the first Black woman and the first person of Indian descent to be nominated for national office by a major party. She is also the first vice presidential candidate to graduate from a Howard University, a historical Black university and member of a Black woman’s sorority, Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc.
Biden announced the selection over text message and a follow-up email to supporters: “Joe Biden here. Big news: I’ve chosen Kamala Harris as my running mate. Together, with you, we’re going to beat Trump.”
Harris herself made an unsuccessful run for President last year. Although she fell short, had demonstrated an energetic and vigorous campaign style that drew thousands of supporters and energized Black women from across the country. She also had a gift for telling relatable stories of being raised by a divorced single mother in Oakland with her younger sister Maya. She was able to inspire crowds of young people and others with what the New York Times called her moments “raw political electricity” on the debate stage and Senate – especially when grilling members of the Trump Administration, such as Attorney General William Barr.
Her dynamism will be a significant asset to the Biden campaign, said Michigan Sen. Gary Peters.
“I’ve had the privilege of working alongside Kamal Harris for years and know firsthand her commitment to fighting for the people of this country. From our work on the Senate Homeland Security Committee to keep Americans safe to fighting to protect access to affordable healthcare, I know Kamal can take any tough challenge and is ready to lead our country.”
If Biden is elected as the nation’s 46th President in November, at 78-years-old, he will be the oldest person elected to the office. Given his age and the fact, he would be 82-years-old by the time he finishes his first term; there is a possibility he might not run for a second term, leaving his Vice President as the automatic front-runner for the Democratic nomination.
Of more immediate concern is that Harris will immediately draw fire from the Trump camp. And considering how racist, sexist, and dishonest the Trump Administration and his reelection campaign have demonstrated to be, there is a very real possibility she will be a lightning rod for attacks.
With polls showing Trump slipping further behind Biden in many states and most of his attacks on Biden proving ineffective, the Trump campaign will be looking to damage Biden’s running mate as much as it can.
Such an experience will pose a unique challenge to an African American female Vice- Presidential nominee and much of the Black community. Although President Obama had to endure racism during both of his campaigns, he did not have to run against an avowed racist such as
Trump, who is already running an explicitly bigoted reelection campaign.
Nevertheless, the selection of a Black woman has energized much of the African American community.
Harris was spoken of as a consensus candidate who has national exposure after running a respectable race for President earlier in the year. A former state attorney general from California, she is also an adept fundraiser and has impressed many political observers with her calm demeanor and analytical style of debating. Her supporters argue she could best prosecute the case against the Trump Administration’s rampant corruption and debasement of the Department of Justice under Attorney General William Barr.
The first Black and Indian American woman to represent California in the United States Senate, Kamala Harris grew up believing in America’s promise and fighting to make sure that promise is fulfilled for all Americans. Kamala’s father immigrated to the U.S. from Jamaica to study economics, and her mother immigrated from India. Kamala’s mother told her growing up, “Don’t sit around and complain about things, do something,” which drives Kamala every day.
Kamala started fighting for working families in the Alameda County District Attorney’s Office, where she focused on prosecuting child sexual assault cases. From there, she became the first Black woman elected as San Francisco’s District Attorney. In this position, she started a program to provide first-time drug offenders second chances with the opportunity to earn a high school degree and find a job.
In 2010, Kamala became the first Black woman to be elected California Attorney General, overseeing the country’s second-largest Justice Department, only behind the U.S. Department of Justice. In this capacity, she managed a $735 million budget and oversaw more than 4,800 attorneys and other employees. As California Attorney General, Kamala fought for families and won a $20 billion settlement for California homeowners against big banks unfairly foreclosing on homes.
Kamala worked to protect Obamacare, helped win marriage equality for all, defended California’s landmark climate change law, and won a $1.1 billion settlement against a for-profit education company that scammed students and veterans. Kamala also fought for California communities and prosecuted transnational gangs who drove human trafficking, gun smuggling, and drug rings.
Since being elected to the U.S. Senate in 2016, Kamala has introduced and co-sponsored legislation to help the middle class, increase the minimum wage to $15, reform cash bail, and defend the legal rights of refugees and immigrants.
Kamala serves on the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence that deals with the nation’s most sensitive national security and international threats. She also serves on the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, where she oversees the federal government’s response to natural disasters and emergencies, including the Trump administration’s response to COVID-19.
On the Senate Judiciary Committee, Kamala has held Trump administration officials accountable and was a powerful voice against Trump’s conservative judicial nominations.
Kamala graduated from Howard University, where she was in the Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority, and earned a law degree from the University of California, Hastings College of Law.
Kamala has been married to her husband, Doug, for the past six years. She is the stepmother of two children, Ella and Cole, who are her “endless source of love and pure joy.”