Kamala Harris makes history as first female, Black vice president
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Kamala Harris cemented her place in history on Saturday, becoming the first woman, and the first woman of color, to be elected as vice president of the United States.
The 56-year-old California senator, who is the daughter of immigrants from India and Jamaica, brings with her a litany of firsts: She will be the first woman vice president, the first Black vice president and the first South Asian vice president.
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"So proud of you," her husband, Doug Emhoff, tweeted after Fox News projected that Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden had defeated incumbent President Trump in the bruising battle for the White House.
Harris tweeted a video of herself calling Biden to congratulate him following their projected victory.
"We did it. We did it, Joe," Harris said, laughing. "You're going to be the next president of the United States."
A former San Francisco district attorney, Harris rose to national prominence when she was elected as the first Black woman to serve as California's attorney general in 2010. Harris held that position until 2016, when she was elected to the Senate. She is one of only two Black women to have served as a U.S. senator.
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Harris attended Howard University, a historically Black university in Washington, D.C., where she joined Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, the first historically Black sorority.
Harris' mother, Shyamala Gopalan, immigrated to the U.S. at the age of 19 to pursue a doctorate in nutrition and endocrinology at the University of California, Berkeley. The senator has previously spoken about how Gopalana, a civil rights activist and later a single mother, had a profound influence on her.
“She raised us to be proud, strong Black women,” Harris said. “And she raised us to know and be proud of our Indian heritage.”
Biden tapped Harris as his running mate in August, months after she ended her own presidential bid, calling her the "best person to help me take this fight to Donald Trump and Mike Pence and then to lead this nation starting in January 2021."
Harris garnered national attention during the beginning of the Democratic primary when she confronted Biden about his history with segregation, including his opposition to busing and his work with lawmakers who were staunch opponents of desegregation. The exchange went viral, highlighting weaknesses in Biden's campaign and catapulting her in the polls.
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Biden later said the attack was surprising given that Harris, as attorney general, had worked closely with her Delaware counterpart, Biden's son Beau.
Still, his selection of Harris came as no surprise; the Biden campaign was hoping that she could generate enthusiasm among young voters and people of color, particularly after months of protests and racial unrest across the country sparked by the death of George Floyd, a Black man, at the hands of a White Minneapolis police officer.
Who Biden selected as his vice president carried extra significance in this election because he will become the oldest president in American history after turning 78 later this month
While accepting the Democratic nomination for vice president during the party's convention in August, Harris, in sweeping remarks, touched on the legacy of Black women who came before her and paved the way for the historical moment.
“Without fanfare or recognition, they organized, testified, rallied, marched, and fought — not just for their vote, but for a seat at the table,” Harris said, mentioning women such as Constance Baker Motley, Fannie Lou Hamer and Shirley Chisholm. “We’re not often taught their stories. But as Americans, we all stand on their shoulders.”
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Black and female lawmakers on Saturday celebrated the history-making moment.
"4 years ago, @KamalaHarris became the first South Asian American woman ever elected to the Senate," Rep. Pramila Jayapal, D-Wash., tweeted. "Now, she's the Vice President-Elect of the United States!! We've not only shattered ceilings, but we've constructed a different path for millions as they imagine their own futures."
"I feel like our ancestors are rejoicing," Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J., tweeted. "For the first time, a Black and South Asian woman has been elected Vice President of the United States. My sister has made history and blazed a trail for future generations to follow. We love you, @KamalaHarris."
"Kamala Harris has made history as the first woman and first person of color to be elected Vice President of the United States," Rep. Jim Clyburn, D-S.C., wrote. "Now more than ever, our country’s leadership is more reflective of our diverse and dynamic country. Congratulations Madam Vice President-elect!"
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