ICYMI: 10 interesting facts you probably didn't know about Kamala Harris

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U.S. Vice-president elect Kamala Harris. (Photo by David Becker/Getty Images)
U.S. Vice-president elect Kamala Harris. (Photo by David Becker/Getty Images)

For this list, we're looking at interesting facts about the Vice-President of the United States, Kamala Harris.

10. Her ancestry is Indian and Jamaican

Kamala Harris was born in California in 1964. Her mother was a cancer researcher from India named Shyamala Gopalan and her father was Donald J Harris, an economist from Jamaica.

Her parents met while they were studying at UC Berkeley and pursuing activism. Growing up in a multicultural household certainly affected her world view and after her parents got divorced, she lived in West Berkeley - a neighbourhood with a significant Black population.

She attended a Hindu temple and a Black Baptist church where she was a part of the children's choir. 

READ MORE: Kamala Harris victory: she braved the pains of being a black woman on a planet that won't accept you 

9. She led a demonstration at the age of 13

Kamala has a long history with activism. Her parents would even take her to protests when she was an infant. When Kamala was 12 years old she moved in with her mother and her sister Maya to Montreal, Quebec, Canada where Shyamala Gopalan was teaching at the Jewish General Hospital, which is affiliated with McGill University.

At the young age of 13, Kamala held a demonstration in front of their apartment building with her sister's help to protest the fact that children were not allowed to play on the front lawn. Their efforts were successful and they managed to have the policy turned around. 

8. She went to Howard University

Kamala attended the French preparatory school Notre Dame Des Neiges in Montreal before enrolling in Westmount High where she completed her high school education in Canada. She then attended Howard University in Washington DC, which is known as one of the top historically Black schools in the U.S.

Her major was in political science and economics, which was a perfect stepping stone for a career in politics. She also managed to have some fun as a member of the Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority. After graduating, she went to law school back in California Hastings College of the Law.

7. She was California's first Black woman DA

Kamala Harris' official career in the world of politics began when she got a job with the Alameda County District Attorney's office as a deputy DA. She later moved to the San Francisco's District Attorney's office. It was there where she made history as the first person of colour to become the District Attorney in San Francisco. She simultaneously became the first woman DA in all of California. 

In 2010, she made history again as the first woman of colour to be elected as the attorney general in California. She was later chosen to continue the role for the second time in 2014. 

6. She was friends with Beau Biden

When Kamala was Attorney General she became friends with Joe Biden's late son, Beau Biden. Their relationship formed while he was Delaware's Attorney General.

Over time, their professional relationship became a personal one. They worked together in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis when they were both tasked with dealing with developing housing issues.

In her memoir, which was released in 2019, Kamala says; "there were periods when I was taking the heat when Beau and I talked everyday, sometimes multiple times a day."

He sadly passed away in 2015. Judging by Kamala's words, she will never forget the time she spent with Beau. 

READ MORE: Joe Biden and Kamala Harris' all female comms team expected to amplify women's voices in media

5. She got married for the first time at 49

Anyone who still hasn't found love later in life can take inspiration from Kamala Harris' story.

She married attorney Doug Emhoff in California in 2014 when she was 49 years old. Although she once dated Montel Williams, yes - the talk show host, Kamala Harris had never previously married and didn't have any children. Dough had two children of his own from a previous marriage and they call Kamala "Momala" as a term of endearment. 

4. Her favourite books

In 2019, Kelly Jensen of Book Riot reached out to a number of presidential candidates to ask them about their favourite books. Kamala Harris was the first of the Democratic candidates who answered the request and named five books among her favourites. 

We learnt that she loves Native Son by Richard Wright and The Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan. Kamala was also a fan of the enduring classic Songs of Solomon by Toni Morrison as well as the extremely popular novel The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini. But most people would likely identify with her love for childhood favourite The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by C. S. Lewis.

3. Her policies targeted vulnerable people

While Kamala Harris' glass-shattering political career is impressive by any standards, the path that brought her there is often criticised as being overly punitive to the less fortunate.

During her time as a state prosecutor she proudly labelled herself as "top cop" and pursued policies that appeared to actively target some of California's most vulnerable residents. Most notably, her office objected to sex workers, calling decriminalisation "completely ridiculous". And websites like Backpage that afforded protection for people in that line of employment were shut down. 

So, while Kamala has become a shining beacon for progressive values, it's understandable that many continue to hold misgivings about her record. 

READ MORE: Here are 7 women who've led their African countries as president

2. She's friends with Barack Obama

After seeing both these politicians in the public eye, it should come as a surprise to no one that they are friends. Kamala Harris and Barack Obama are long-time buddies. There were even rumours that Obama considered her for a position in the Supreme Court and as his Attorney General.

Back in 2008, she was one of the first prominent figures in California to endorse his presidential run. On one occasion, Obama got into hot water when some thought he was a little to friendly with Kamala. When he referred to her as "the best looking Attorney general in the country", his critics deemed the comment inappropriate. 

1. The meaning of her name

Kamala Harris' name has been a hot topic since she's been announced as Joe Biden's running mate because many people seem to have trouble pronouncing it. She got her name from her mother, who chose it because of their Indian roots.

Kamala primarily means lotus. Her name also makes reference to the Hindu Goddess Lakshmi and stands for female empowerment. 

There's one more thing Kamala got from her mother - her motto.

She lives by the words; "you may be the first, but make sure you're not the last". Those words certainly seem more poignant than ever now that she's been elected as the first woman vice-president of the United States. 

Did you know these details about Kamala Harris? Let us know in the comments below. 

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