Kamala Harris represents the few whose decision to engage in politics was born out of the desire to give a voice to the voiceless diaspora in America. She became the first California attorney general with African American or South Asian ancestry after defeating Republican rival Steve Cooley in the 2010 election for the position.   Harris was born on October 20, 1964 in Oakland, California to a Tamil Indian mother and a Jamaican father. The family lived in Berkeley, California, where both of Harris’ parents attended graduate school. Although, Harris’ parents were later divorced when she was 7 and her mother was granted custody of the children by a court-ordered settlement.

After the divorce, her mother moved with the children to Montreal, Québec, Canada, where Shyamala took a position doing research at the Jewish General Hospital and teaching at McGill University. After graduating from Montreal’s Westmount High School in Quebec, Harris attended Howard University in Washington, D.C., where she majored in political science and economics. She began her leadership experience at an early stage in life as she was elected to the liberal arts student council as freshman class representative, a member of the debate team, and joined the Alpha Chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority. She then returned to California, earning her Juris Doctor (J.D.) from University of California, Hastings College of the Law, in 1989.

Harris began prosecuting murder, robbery, and child rape cases as deputy district attorney for the Alameda County District Attorney’s Office, serving in the position from 1990 to 1998. Then, as managing attorney of the Career Criminal Unit of the San Francisco District Attorney’s Office, a position she filled from 1998 to 2000, with this position Harris prosecuted cases involving serial felons. Harris used her position to create a significant decline in Crime in San Francisco, with Harris as head; the San Francisco District Attorney’s office increased the percentage of dangerous criminals sentenced to prison by more than half. She also tripled the number of misdemeanor cases sent to trial and prosecuted the parents of truant children, which helped slash the truancy rate by 23 percent. She made California safer by prosecuting transnational gangs that exploited women and children and trafficked in guns and drugs. She led comprehensive studies and investigations into the impacts of transnational criminal organizations and human trafficking in California. Harris is an outspoken advocate for immigrant and women’s rights, and a proud member of the resistance against Donald Trump’s presidency.  In 2003, Kamala Harris made history; she was elected as the San Francisco district attorney, becoming the first woman, black, and South Asian to achieve this feat.

Kamala Harris was a fighter who continued to defend her people in time of crisis. She led comprehensive studies and investigations into the impacts of transnational criminal organizations and human trafficking in California.  She also fought for California families in the wake of the financial and national mortgage crisis, when she challenged Wall Street greed and took on the big banks, winning over $20 billion for homeowners, creating the multidivisional Mortgage Fraud Strike Force to crack down on fraud, and passing a “Homeowners Bill of Rights,” establishing the nation’s most comprehensive anti-foreclosure protections. Kamala was proud to lead the team that helped bring down California’s Proposition 8 at the U.S. Supreme Court and to fight for marriage equality nationwide. Throughout her career, Kamala has been a leading advocate for innovation and reform in the criminal justice system.

She introduced or co-sponsored the legislation to reform our criminal justice system, raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour, make higher education tuition-free for the vast majority of Americans, protect the legal rights of refugees and immigrants, and expand access to affordable, quality health care by creating a Medicare for All-style program.

She has won so many awards and accolades. Harris won endorsements from California’s political elite while campaigning for attorney general, including Sen. Diane Feinstein, Congresswoman Maxine Waters, California Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom, and former Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa. On the national stage, Harris had the backing of former U.S. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi. Leaders in law enforcement endorsed Harris also, including the then police chiefs of San Diego and San Francisco.

Harris’ numerous honors, include being named one of California’s top 75 women litigators by legal paper the Daily Journal and a “Woman of Power” by the National Urban League. Additionally, the National Black Prosecutors Association gave Harris the Thurgood Marshall Award and the Aspen Institute chose her to serve as a Rodel Fellow.  She was also elected to the board of the California District Attorneys Association. She received the endorsements of numerous groups, including EMILY’s List, California Legislative Black Caucus, Asian American Action Fund, Black Women Organized for Political Action, the National Women’s Political Caucus, Mexican American Bar Association, and South Asians for Opportunity

Kamala Harris depicts a woman with strength and a heart for the people as she continues to remain a fearless advocate for the voiceless and vulnerable.

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