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Black History Month Spotlight: Kamala Harris

It is no surprise to me that a woman of color is now helping pave the way for the first female president, which I am confident this country will some day soon have. Like men of color, women of color have been pioneers in many areas. From Civil Rights activism, to writing, to politics to education-the contributions of Black women have undoubtedly shaped our country and the way we live.

The child of activist parents who emigrated from India and Jamaica, starting at a young age, Kamala Harris’ parents brought her to civil rights demonstrations. This planted a seed for Harris to eventually become a prosecutor.

Harris is a graduate of the historically Black Howard University. While at Howard, she joined Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority, led the debate team, interned as a mailroom clerk for California Senator Alan Cranston and chaired the economics society. Harris later attended University of California, Hastings College of Law, where she served as president of its chapter of the Black Law Students Association.

“Kamala Harris, for the people” were the words she spoke the first time she stood up in court. From my viewpoint, “the people” she referred are people of all ages, races and backgrounds.

Harris joined the Alameda County District Attorney’s Office in 1990, with a specialty in prosecuting child sexual assault cases. She also served as a managing attorney in the San Francisco District Attorney’s Office and was chief of the Division on Children and Families for the San Francisco City Attorney’s Office.

In 2003, she was elected district attorney of San Francisco. In this position, she created a program which was designated as a national model of innovation for law enforcement by the United States Department of Justice. The program provided first-time drug offenders with the opportunity to earn a high school degree and find employment.

Harris was elected California’s Attorney General in 2010 and was reelected in 2014. Harris is responsible for instituting several reforms that ensured greater transparency and accountability in the criminal justice system and establishing the state’s first Bureau of Children’s Justice. In addition, in this position, she won a $20 billion settlement for Californians whose homes had been foreclosed on.

Harris was sworn into the United States Senate in 2017. There, she fought for better protections for DREAMers and called for better oversight of substandard conditions at immigrant detention facilities, among many other causes she strongly advocated for. As Senator, one of Harris’ many accomplishments was having her legislation to preserve Historically Black Colleges and Universities signed into law.

On January 21, 2019, Harris officially announced her candidacy for president of the United States for the 2020 United States presidential election. However, on December 3, 2019, Harris withdrew from seeking the 2020 Democratic nomination, saying there was a shortage of funds. In March 2020, Harris endorsed Joe Biden for president.

On August 11, 2020, Harris accepted Biden’s invitation to become his running mate. In January 2021, when Biden became the 46th president of the United States, Harris became the first woman, the first Black American and the first South Asian American to be elected vice president. In addition, she the highest-ranking female elected official in U.S. history!

As an African American woman myself, Harris inspires me to dream bigger, work harder, reach higher and achieve more in life. Her “courage is contagious.”

Because of Harris and many other amazing men and women of color, people around the world are slowly but surely starting to give other African Americans the respect they have always deserved. I hope and pray the momentum we have recently gained will not be in vain, and Black history can be celebrated identifying these accomplishments made throughout the years which will surely bring our nation closer.

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