Kamala Harris is Joe Biden’s VP pick. Here’s her connection to Chennai

Kamala Harris is Joe Biden’s running mate for the 2020 United States presidential election on August 11, 2020, becoming the third female U.S. vice presidential nominee of a major party.

She is the first Indian American and the first African American to be chosen as the running mate of a presidential candidate.

And in the hours after the announcement, US President Donald Trump reacted with multiple attack videos, including one calling her a “phony”.

Who is Kamala Harris?

Kamala Devi Harris was born on October 20, 1964, in Oakland, California. Her mother, Shyamala Gopalan, was a breast-cancer scientist who had emigrated from Tamil Nadu, India in 1960 to pursue a doctorate in endocrinology at UC Berkeley. Her father, Donald Harris, is a Stanford University emeritus professor of economics, who emigrated from British Jamaica in 1961 for graduate study in economics at UC Berkeley. Biracial of Indian Tamil and Jamaican descent, Kamala Harris identifies simply as “American”.

Kamala Harris was raised in Berkeley, California, with her younger sister, Maya Harris. She grew up going to both a black Baptist church and a Hindu temple, while she and her sister visited their mother’s family in Madras (now Chennai), India, on occasion. As a result, Harris writes in her memoir that she understands small amounts of Tamil. Gopalan, her grand father, insisted on giving her daughters names associated with Indian culture to help preserve their Indian identity

One of Harris’ fondest memories of Gopalan’s final years was in 1991, when the whole family gathered in Chennai to celebrate his 80th birthday. It had been at least 20 years since everyone was together and they all stayed in their three-bedroom apartment, on a quiet, tree-lined street a few blocks from the beach.

Public Life

Kamala Harris is a graduate of Howard University and University of California, Hastings College of the Law. Ms 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, serving until 2011. Harris was narrowly elected attorney general of California in 2010, and was re-elected in 2014. Harris faced criticism from reformers for tough-on-crime policies she pursued while she was California’s attorney general.

In November 2016, she defeated Loretta Sanchez in the 2016 Senate election to succeed outgoing senator Barbara Boxer, becoming California’s third female senator, the second African-American woman and the first Asian–American to serve in the United States Senate. As a senator, she has supported healthcare reform, federal de-scheduling of cannabis, a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants, the DREAM Act, a ban on assault weapons, and progressive tax reform. She gained a national profile for her pointed questioning of Trump administration officials during Senate hearings, including U.S. attorneys general Jeff Sessions and William Barr, and Associate Justice nominee Brett Kavanaugh.

Ms. Harris ran for the Democratic nomination for President of the United States in the 2020 election, briefly becoming a frontrunner before ending her campaign on December 3, 2019, citing a lack of funds to continue.