Los Angeles, November 9 (NIA): California Attorney General Kamala Devi Harris beat Congresswoman Loretta Sanchez Tuesday night for a coveted U.S. Senate seat, KABC reported.
With this, Democrat Kamala Devi Harris or “Kamala” as she is better known, becomes the first Black Indian Tamil American to win a US Senate seat and the first biracial to be in the Senate. Her father, Donald Harris, is Jamaican, and her mother, Dr.Shyamala Gopalan, is a Tamil from Chennai, India. She is married to a White American, Douglas Emhoff.
She became the first California Attorney General with African American and South Asian ancestry after defeating Republican rival Steve Cooley in the 2010 election for the position. Harris, formerly San Francisco’s district attorney, was also the first woman to serve in the role.
Kamala Devi Harris was born on October 20, 1964, and raised in San Francisco’s East Bay where she attended public schools, worshiped at black churches and lived in predominantly African American communities. Her immersion in African American culture didn’t prevent her from being exposed to Indian-Hindu culture, though.
Her breast cancer specialist mother took Harris to Hindu temples to worship.
Moreover, Kamala is no stranger to India, having visited the subcontinent on several occasions to see relatives. Her bicultural heritage and travels around the globe have inspired political insiders to compare her with President Barack Obama. Although Obama sometimes struggled with identity issues, as he describes in memoir “Dreams from My Father,” Kamala evidently didn’t experience growing pains in this vein.
“I never felt insecure about that at all,” she told AP. “Slowly, perhaps…, people will start to understand the diversity of the people,” she added.
After graduating from high school, she left the East Bay to attend Howard University, a historically Black academic institution. She earned a bachelor’s degree from Howard in 1986 and then returned to the Bay Area in Northern California. Upon her return, she enrolled at Hastings College of the Law, where she earned a law degree. Following that accomplishment, she proceeded to leave her mark on the legal arena of San Francisco.
Law degree in tow, Kamala began prosecuting child rape, robbery and murder cases as deputy district attorney for the Alameida 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, Kamala prosecuted cases involving serial felons
Later, she headed the San Francisco City Attorney’s Division on Families and Children for three years. But it was in 2003 that she would make history. At that year’s end, she was elected as the San Francisco district attorney, becoming the first Woman, Black and South Asian to achieve this feat. In November 2007, voters reelected her to the office.
During her 20 years as a prosecutor, Kamala has shaped an identity for herself as being tough on crime. She prides herself on doubling trial conviction rates for gun felonies to 90 percent as San Francisco’s so-called top cop. Also, with Kamala as head, the San Francisco District Attorney’s office increased the percentage of dangerous criminals sentenced to prison by more than half.
But serious crime wasn’t her only focus. She also tripled the amount of misdemeanor cases sent to trial and prosecuted the parents of truant children, which helped slash the truancy rate by 23 percent. She 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, she had the backing of former U.S. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi. Leaders in law enforcement also endorsed her, including the then police chiefs of San Diego and San Francisco.
Kamala has won numerous honors, including 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 her the Thurgood Marshall Award and the Aspen Institute chose her to serve as a Rodel Fellow. Lastly, the California District Attorneys Association elected her to its board.