Vice President-elect Kamala Harris: What you need to know

Vice President-elect Kamala Harris: What you need to know
Credit: Belga

Four days after Americans took to the polls for the 2020 US elections, former vice-president Joe Biden defeated Donald Trump in enough states to be projected as the winner, which also means his running mate Kamala Harris will be America’s next vice-president.

Harris will be making history as the first female, first African-American and first Asian-American to become vice-president of the United States. With that, here’s what you need to know about Kamala Harris.

Early life

Harris was born in Oakland, California, on 20 October 1964, the daughter of Shyamala Gopalan, who came to the United States at age 19 as a graduate student at the University of California, Berkeley, and Donald J. Harris, a professor of economics at Stanford University who had arrived from British Jamaica.

Harris’ parents divorced when she was seven years old, and she and her sister moved to Montreal, Canada when Kamala was 12, as her mother had accepted a position at the Jewish General Hospital, which is affiliated with McGill University. Harris went to a French-speaking primary school, and then to Westmount High School.

She then attended Howard University, a historically black university in Washington, DC, whose other notable alumni include Toni Morrison, Thurgood Marshall and recently-deceased actor Chadwick Boseman.

Harris graduated in 1986, obtaining a degree in political science and economics, after which she went to law school at the University of California, Hastings College of the Law, graduating in 1989 and being admitted to the California Bar in 1990.

Early career

Harris started out her career as a deputy district attorney in Alameda County, California in 1990 and, in 1998, was recruited as an assistant district attorney in San Francisco. In 2000, she worked for the city attorney at San Francisco City Hall and, a few years later, successfully ran for District Attorney.

Kamala Harris then successfully ran for Attorney General of California, a position she held until 2017.


Harris announced in 2015 that she would run for Senate in California, receiving endorsements from the California Democratic Party and the likes of former US President Barack Obama and then-Vice President Joe Biden. Harris won 60% of the vote in the November 2016 election.

In 2019, she announced her candidacy for president as one of a historical number of 29 Democrats, withdrawing on 3 December 2019 due to a shortage of funds. The Democratic primary was won, of course, by former vice-president Joe Biden, who announced Harris as his running mate at the Democratic National Convention.

Harris will take office as vice-president on 20 January 2021.

Jason Spinks

The Brussels Times

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