Kamala Harris is inaugurated as Vice President of the United States on January 20, 2021. She has made history as the first female, first Black and first South Asian to hold the office.
The culmination of Harris’ historic run with President Joe Biden first began with her own bid for the 2020 Democratic beginning in January 2019. Through the numerous debates and media appearances that followed, voters learned plenty about Harris’ political views and values, but here are 10 things you might not know about the Vice President:
1. She is the daughter of Jamaican and Indian immigrants:
Harris was born at Oakland, California’s Kaiser Hospital on October 20, 1964, to Indian American immigrant and breast cancer researcher, Dr. Shyamala Gopalan and Jamaica-born Donald Harris, an emeritus professor of economics at Stanford.
2. She loves to cook:
“As a child, I remember hearing the pots and smelling the food, and kind of like someone in a trance, I would walk into the kitchen to see all this incredible stuff happening,” Harris recalled in a May 2020 Glamour interview. “My mother used to tell me, ‘Kamala, you clearly like to eat good food. You better learn how to cook.’”
That’s exactly what she did, and, now, the politician regularly shares her culinary skills, recipes, and love for Sunday dinners on social media.
3. She’s an avid reader:
While running as a Democratic candidate for president in 2019, Harris was the first to respond to Book Riot’s request for her favorite books and/or those that have been most influential in her life.
4. She accomplished several firsts in California:
From 2004 to 2010, Harris served as the first woman District Attorney in San Francisco’s history, and as the first African American woman and South Asian American woman in California to hold the office, according to the state’s Department of Justice. After completing two terms in the role, she was then elected as the first African American and first woman to serve as California’s Attorney General.
5. She and Beau Biden were friends:
Prior to becoming President Biden’s running mate, Harris first met the former vice president through his late son, Beau, who died of brain cancer in 2015. The pair became friends while Harris was California’s Attorney General, and Beau served in the same position for the State of Delaware, namely connecting over their work during the Great Recession of 2008 and the 2011 housing crisis.
6. She Was the First Woman and First Black Attorney General of California:
After narrowly beating Los Angeles County district attorney Steve Cooley to become state attorney general in November 2010, Harris made an immediate mark by withdrawing from settlement negotiations with five of the country’s largest financial institutions for improper mortgage practices only to eventually settle for five times the original proposed amount.
As attorney general Harris created Open Justice, an online platform that makes criminal justice data available to the public at large. The database has helped improve police accountability by tabulating the number of deaths and injuries of those in police custody. She also presided over the creation of “Operation Boo,” a mandatory curfew for all homeless sex offenders on Halloween.
7. Biden and Harris Butted Heads During the Democratic Primary Before Teaming Up in 2020:
Harris announced she was running for president in January 2019. One high points came during the first Democratic debate when Harris confronted her future running mate over his position on cross-district busing in the 1970s and delivered a stirring anecdote ending with the line, “And that little girl was me,” which became an immediate viral sensation.
The resulting surge in poll numbers, however, did not last, Harris shut her campaign down in December, and endorsed Biden in March 2020. He announced Harris as his VP pick in August saying, “Back when Kamala was Attorney General, she worked closely with (my son) Beau. I watched as they took on the big banks, lifted up working people, and protected women and kids from abuse. I was proud then, and I’m proud now to have her as my partner in this campaign
8. Harris organized a successful protest at the age of 13.
9. She was a member of the Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority:
While attending Howard University in 1986, Harris joined the HBCU’s chapter of the Alpha Kappa Alpha (AKA) sorority, the first established Black Greek Letter Organization for women. One way Harris honored her ties to the Divine Nine — the council of the nine historically Black fraternities and sororities — on the campaign trail was by wearing a string of pearls, which represents the sorority’s 20 founders and incorporators.
10. She’s written three books:
In 2009, Harris, who was elected as San Francisco’s district attorney six years earlier, published her first book, Smart on Crime: A Career Prosecutor’s Plan to Make Us Safer, which focused on criminal justice reform.
Ahead of the launch of her 2019 presidential campaign, Harris introduced voters to her values in The Truths We Hold: An American Journey, which included a blend of career highlights and personal philosophy. “A patriot is not someone who condones the conduct of our country whatever it does,” she wrote in an excerpt from O. “It is someone who fights every day for the ideals of the country, whatever it takes.”
Also in 2019, she released an illustrated children’s book, Superheroes Are Everywhere, which was geared toward readers aged three to seven. In the book, she wrote about how heroism is more about choice and character than capes. “Heroes stand up for what is right. Who stands up for what is right in your life?” the book poses, while introducing kids to the heroes of Harris’s life, per O.