Getting to know Kamala Harris

Kamala HarrisOver at Politico, Catherine Kim and Zack Stanton offer “55 Things You Need to Know About Kamala Harris.” A taste:

  1. Kamala Devi Harris was born in Oakland, California on October 20, 1964, the eldest of two children born to Shyamala Gopalan, a cancer researcher from India, and Donald Harris, an economist from Jamaica.
  2. Her parents met at UC Berkeley while pursuing graduate degrees, and bonded over a shared passion for the civil rights movement, which was active on campus. After she was born, they took young Kamala along to protests in a stroller.
  3. Her mother chose Kamala’s name as a nod both to her Indian roots — Kamala means “lotus” and is another name for the Hindu goddess Lakshmi — and the empowerment of women.
  4. Harris’ parents divorced when she was 7, and her mother raised her and her sister, Maya, on the top floor of a yellow duplex in Berkeley.
  5. In first grade, Harris was bused to Thousand Oaks Elementary School, which was in its second year of integration. For the next three years, she’d play “Miss Mary Mack” and cat’s cradle with her friends on the bus that traveled from her predominantly black, lower-middle-class neighborhood to her school located in a prosperous white district.
  6. As a child, Harris went to both a Black Baptist church and a Hindu temple — embracing both her South Asian and Black identities. “My mother understood very well that she was raising two black daughters,” Harris later wrote in her autobiography, “and she was determined to make sure we would grow into confident, proud black women.”
  7. She visited India as a child and was heavily influenced by her grandfather, a high-ranking government official who fought for Indian independence, and grandmother, an activist who traveled the countryside teaching impoverished women about birth control.
  8. Harris attended middle school and high school in Montreal after her mom got a teaching job at McGill University and a position as a cancer researcher at Jewish General Hospital.
  9. In Montreal, a 13-year-old Harris and her younger sister, Maya, led a successful demonstration in front of their apartment building in protest of a policy that banned children from playing on the lawn.
  10. After high school, Harris attended Howard University, the prestigious historically Black college in Washington, D.C. She majored in political science and economics, and joined the Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority.

Click here to read numbers 11 to 55.