Kamala Harris: Wife, Mom & Vice-President-Elect

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The United States Vice President-elect, Kamala Harris’ historic nomination and election means so much to a new generation of biracial female political leaders.

In an inspirational message – which served as her first speech – Harris said, “While I may be the first woman in this office, I will not be the last. Because every little girl watching tonight sees that this is a country of possibilities.”

Image of Kamala Harris

Symbolically, her newly elected position connects and brightens the hope of the American woman. And women of color around the world who may have been marginalized, overlooked, systematically ignored and historically unrepresented for a long time.

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But even then, the former presidential candidate would likely be dogged by the all-too-familiar charge levied against successful women, that she’s guilty of being ‘too ambitious’.

“Women have historically been appreciated as mostly supporting and background players” says Catherine Clinton, the Denman Chair of American History at the University of Texas in San Antonio.

“Outspoken and accomplished women are often criticized for their ‘ambition’ because political movements thrive on women behind the scenes who defer to male leaders. From abolition to civil rights to Black Lives Matter, groups flourish only through women’s organizational efforts,” Clinton said. 

From her early childhood days, Kamala Harris constantly learnt to speak out and speak up. Her mom, Shyamala, an Indian-American immigrant, a breast cancer researcher, and an activist inspired her with a passion that led to her spending a huge chunk of her life fighting for justice!

Meet Kamala Harris on Twitter https://twitter.com/kamalaharris?lang=en

Who Is Kamala Harris – Early Life And Family?

Kamala Devi Harris was born on 20th October 1964. She was born in Oakland, California. Her mother’s name is Shyamala Gopalan.

Shyamala arrived in the United States in 1958, migrating from Tamil Nadu in India at the age of 19. She was a graduate student in nutrition and endocrinology at the University of California, Berkeley. And in 1964 -the year Harris was born – Shyamala got her PhD.

Harris’ father, 82-year-old Donald Jasper Harris was born in Browns Town in Jamaica. He is an economist and professor emeritus at Stanford University. He had migrated into the United States from British Jamaica in 1961 for graduate study at the University of California. In 1966, Donald received a PhD in economics.

Kamala Harris has a younger sister, Maya Harris, who they both lived together in Berkeley, California as kids. They sang in a children’s choir at an African American church in Oakland where a neighbor took them to regularly.

Their mom, Shyamala later introduced them to Hinduism.

Harris’ parents separated at age 7. She, however, professed to have been heavily influenced by her mother’s dad, P.V. Gopalan who she claimed had very impressive views on women’s rights and democracy. She has visited the family of her father in Jamaica and has kept contact with her Indian uncles and aunts. 

Shyamala received teaching and research work at the McGill University-affiliated Jewish General hospital in 1976. Kamala Harris and her sister moved to Montreal, Quebec, Canada to be with her.

A close friend and a high school colleague of the U.S. vice president-elect, Wanda Kagan told CBC News how she opened up to Kamala about how her stepfather constantly molested her during their high school days. Kamala discussed with her mom who then allowed Wanda to stay with them till she concluded her high school.

Kagan also stated how Kamala recently told her that the role she played in defending Wanda Kagan against being exploited by her stepfather during high school days has helped her to develop a passion in protecting the rights of children and women as a ‘progressive prosecutor’.

Kamala Harris also attended Howard University in Washington, D.C. And while there, she interned for the California senator, Alan Cranston, as a mailroom clerk. She also chaired the economics society, championed the debate team, and took part with the Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority.

She graduated with a degree in economics and political science from Howard University in 1986. And thereafter, proceeded to study law at the University of California, Hastings College of the Law, through the Legal Education Opportunity Program (LEOP).

Harris served as the president of the Black Law Students Association while at UC Hastings. In 1989, she graduated with a Juris Doctor, and in June 1990, she got admitted to the California Bar.

Photo of Kamala Harris with supporters
Ms Harris all smiles as she cheers on supporters in Las Vegas, before the Nevada State Democratic Party’s “First In The West” event in 2019

Kamala Harris’ Political Career

“We did it, we did it, Joe. You’re going to be the next president of the United States,” Harris said with a signature laugh after CNN projected their victory in the presidential elections.

We did it, @JoeBiden. pic.twitter.com/oCgeylsjB4

— Kamala Harris (@KamalaHarris) November 7, 2020

Despite the fact that Harris’ words were about the President-elect, Joe Biden, the history of the moment was hugely hers!

But the road coming for Kamala Harris was rough, long and imbued with feats.

Kamala Harris As A Deputy District Attorney

Harris served as a deputy district attorney in Alameda County, California in 1990, then at the state Unemployment Insurance Appeals Board in 1994. She later got into the California Medical Assistance Commission.

In 1998, Terence Hallinan, the San Francisco District Attorney, employed Harris as an assistant district attorney. While there, she became the chief of the Career Criminal Division, and was overseeing five other attorneys. She handled the prosecution of robbery, burglary, sexual assaults, and homicide majorly.

Harris got into a fracas with Terence Hallinan’s assistant, Darrell Salomon, in 2000, which finally led to her quitting the job.

That same year, she took up a job with city attorney Louise Renne at San Francisco City Hall. She transferred as head of the Family and Children’s Services Division and represented neglect cases and child abuse.

Kamala Harris As A District Attorney

Harris ran for District Attorney of San Francisco in 2002 against her former boss and incumbent attorney, Hallinan. And won with 56% of the total vote.

This victory made her the first person of color to have ascended the position as District Attorney of San Francisco. She returned, re-elected in 2007.

In 2008, she declared her interest in vying for the post of the California attorney general. And this time, she got more top endorsements during the primaries. She faced Steve Cooley who was the Republican Los Angeles County district attorney in the general elections, defeated him, and was sworn in on 3rd January 2011.

This victory made her the first woman, the first South Asian American, and also the first African American to hold the Attorney General’s office in the history of that state!

She returned, re-elected again on the 4th November 2014 . Harris defeated Republican candidate, Ronald Gold with a 57.5% of votes.

Kamala Harris In The U.S Senate

In 2016, she won election to the U.S senate seat against rep. Loretta Sanchez, raking 62% of the total votes.  

In June 2017, she sparked media attention after she queried the deputy attorney general, Rod Rosenstein over his own decisions on the firing of the director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, James Comey in May.

One week after, she questioned the attorney general, Jeff Sessions on the same issue. And you know what, Sessions actually admitted that her questioning made him nervous!

Photo of Kamala Harris
Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., reacts during a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing about the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, on Capitol Hill, Wednesday, June 7, 2017, in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon) Alex Brandon/Associated Press

Harris got appointed into the Senate Judiciary Committee in January 2018. During her position, she continued her fight against racial prejudice, injustices, and segregation.

Kamala Harris survived a mail bomb attempt in October 2018. The culprit, Cesar Sayoc wassentenced to a 20-year jail term

Republican senators including Roy Blunt, Marco Rubio, and Richard Burr have expressed their admiration of the effectiveness of Kamala Harris. In fact, Lindsey Graham also affirmed that she is tough, smart and hard-nosed!  

56-year-old Harris contested for the Democratic nomination for presidency in 2019 against Joe Biden. She attacked Biden over race which many suggested may have dealt a huge hit on Biden’s ambitions. But by the end of that year, Biden brought her on his presidential ticket.

They were declared winners of the U.S. presidential election in November 2020. And when they are sworn in, Kamala Harris will become the first black woman – as she likes to identify herself, the first person of color, and the first female Vice President in the history of the United States to have ascended that position!

Kamala Harris Net Worth

According to Celebrity Net Worth, Kamala Harris has a net worth of $5 million. It is revealed that a huge chunk of her wealth is connected to income earned by her husband, attorney Doug Emhoff.

Kamala Harris’ Husband

The Chronicle revealed that Doug and Kamala tied the knot at the Santa Barbara Courthouse in a private ceremony on 22nd August 2014, with Maya Harris presiding over the occasion.

Doug is an attorney and has two children – Cole and Ella – from his previous marriage to his ex-wife Kerstin.

Doug, Cole, and Ella had an interview with the Glamour where the kids opened up about falling in love with Harris immediately they saw her. Ella said, “It felt serious when he was just talking about her because I could hear it in his voice. When we did meet, it all felt so natural that it wasn’t even a big deal. It felt like we had known each other forever. And I think what was important was getting to know her as a person first—a person before a politician.”

Cole said, “I think for all of us, it was love at first sight. ….I got a sense of who she was and her career up to that point. It gave me a new understanding of what she’s been able to accomplish, and I was so impressed.”

Harris also revealed in an article to Elle that she works hard to ensure that her stepkids are sure of her love and respect for them.

“As a child of divorce, I knew how hard it could be when your parents start to date other people”. She wrote.

“I was determined not to insert myself in their lives until Doug and I had established we were in this for the long haul. There’s nothing worse than disappointing a child.” Harris added.

Kamala Harris In Good Relationship With Doug’s Ex-wife, Kerstin

Harris disclosed to Dana Bash how Doug’s ex-wife is a close friend to her, and also instrumental to the bond she enjoys with her stepkids.

“One of the keys to my relationship with Cole and Ella is their mom,” Harris revealed. “We are friends. The thing about blended families—if everyone approaches it in the way that there’s plenty of love to share, then it works.”

In an interview with PEOPLE, Harris also explained the kind of closeness that existed with Kerstin. “We’re a very modern family. Their mom is a close friend of mine,” she said.

Kamala Harris And Her Kids

A stepmother for six years, Harris, 55, knows about the struggle to balance work and motherhood. Despite her tough job and demanding roles in politics, Kamala Harris is a great step-mum to her kids! The kids coined the term, “Momala” in referring to her, and she has said she prefers it.

Cole and Ella are very loving and welcoming to Harris. In fact, she revealed in an essay to Elle that even though she was already into their dad, Douglas Emhoff, “Cole and Ella reeled me in.”

In that same essay, Harris talks about a difficult moment in 2017 when she was torn between a work event and motherly duty

“On June 8, 2017, FBI Director James Comey had to testify before the Senate Intelligence Committee about his firing and the Russia investigation. It was the same day as Ella’s high school graduation,” Harris wrote. “I agonized over the scheduling conflict and ultimately took a deep breath and called Ella from D.C. She understood when I told her I wouldn’t be able to make it back in time, but I still felt awful about it. I sought the advice of my female colleagues in the Senate. And it was Maggie Hassan, the senator from New Hampshire, who offered me some sage wisdom: ‘Our kids love us for who we are and the sacrifices we make,’ she said. ‘They get it.’”

Though she ended up missing her stepdaughter’s graduation ceremony, Harris went on to fulfill her civic duty, reporting that she made it home for their Sunday family dinner. As Harris noted, for moms “time is precious” and balance is elusive. Yet with transparent communication, childcare support, and flexibility, you can lead well and honor familial commitments. 

Harris added in her message to the publication that her stepkids are her “endless source of love and pure joy”. She said, “I can say one thing with certainty, my heart wouldn’t be whole, nor my life full, without them.”

Photo of Kamala Harris and her family

https://www.instagram.com/p/BxYWjnTjnUM/?utm_source=ig_embed

Kamala Harris And Her Family Have Special Moments Together On Sundays

Harris disclosed that even though things took a bit of a different turn during her campaign run, the family reserves Sundays for special get-together and dinners.

“Our time as a family is Sunday dinner. We come together, all of us around the table, and over time we’ve fallen into our roles. Cole sets the table and picks the music, Ella makes beautiful desserts, Doug acts as my sous-chef, and I cook.” Harris said.

Kamala Harris’ Niece Writes A Glowing Review About Her

Kamala Harris’s sister Maya Harris has a daughter called Meena. Meena Harris is a lawyer, entrepreneur, and New York Times bestselling author of “Ambitious Girl,” a children’s book dedicated to girls who’ve been told they’re “too much. She is also the niece of the vice-president-elect.

In an article featured on Elle, she said:

“As my aunt showed us last week, when we encourage ambitious girls, they become ambitious women. And ambitious women can break barriers, shatter ceilings, and win.

I hope this will be taught in homes, where all too often girls are sheltered and supervised, taught to value humility and politeness over drive and persistence—at the risk of being seen as “too this” or “too that.

I hope this will be taught in schools, where girls tend to be given more praise than boys for doing things the “right” way—neatly, quietly, when it’s “their turn”—and less freedom to play and take physical risks. It’s one reason why girls’ confidence levels fall 30 percent as they enter their teens. A systemic gap that lingers through college and into the working world.

And I hope grown-ups will learn it, too. Because when it comes to our own ambitions, we all have some unlearning to do. For men, this means recognizing that the ambitions of women aren’t a threat to their own. For women, it means celebrating our achievements, valuing our desires, and unapologetically speaking them out loud.

Some of this unlearning comes from watching other fierce, ambitious women get what they’ve earned. Women like Ayanna Pressley, Serena Williams, Mindy Kaling, Megan Rapinoe, and Megan Thee Stallion. Women like Kamala Harris

This past Saturday, “Work That” introduced my aunt to the world once again—this time, as our future vice president. I stood on that stage with my two young daughters, listening to a victory speech delivered by the first Black, first South Asian, first female Vice President-elect of the United States. She spoke directly to children everywhere: “Dream with ambition, lead with conviction, and see yourselves in a way that others may not.”

That evening, amid the dazzling lights and honking cars of a euphoric crowd in Delaware, I wasn’t just celebrating a historic win. I was also celebrating the reality that, to my little girls up on stage—and little girls all across the country—the ambition that propelled my aunt to the White House will finally be seen as normal.

Because like her, more and more ambitious women aren’t running from what they could be. Instead, they’re chasing the dreams they were born to achieve, and demanding a more equal world where they can succeed.”

Final Thoughts

Kamala Harris is indeed an inspiration to girls, mothers and women all over the world. She has shown that there are no limits to what can be achieved when you put in the hard work, zeal and passion.

She is the evidence that you truly can go for it and have it all…

Yes, motherhood can be and should be combined with ambition!

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