News

Getting to know Kamala Harris, the first black female vice-presidential candidate

In a historic first for a woman of colour, Joe Biden has chosen Kamala Harris as his 2020 vice-presidential running mate. With former President Barack Obama saying “Joe Biden nailed this decision,” this year’s election will be shaped by the global coronavirus pandemic and a nation that is reckoning on race.

Former vice-president Biden announced his selection in a text message and email to supporters: “Big news: I’ve chosen Kamala Harris as my running mate. Together, with you, we’re going to beat Trump.” The decision comes after months of searching and vetting. For those not across US politics, this is what we know about Kamala Harris.

Credit: Erin Kirkland

Kamala Harris, the daughter of immigrants from Jamaica and India, is now the first Black woman and the first Asian American to work for a major US party’s presidential ticket.

One of the most eminent women of colour in America politics, Harris appeals to a wide demographic across the party’s ideological spectrum. She also held the position of the Attorney General of California for six years before arriving in the Senate in 2016. That was the same election that launched Trump into the White House.

The 55-year-old took no time in taking to the national spotlight in her first term in the Senate, as she made herself known from the viral moments that questioned Trump’s cabinet appointees during confirmation hearings.

Using that spotlight Harris joined the race to become the Democratic presidential nominee, but in December 2019 the campaign ran out of funds, making her one of the first high-profile dropouts.

Following the death of George Floyd, mass protests put police reform on the list of issues that formed the battleground of the 2020 election. This is when Harris’s work as a former prosecutor began to receive scrutiny, as in the past she had ignored calls to hold police accountable for shootings. She did, however, call the killing of Floyd “the result of broader systematic racism that exists in our country”, and took action alongside a number of high-profile Democrats in unveiling a 134-page bill for police reform.

Though she has long been viewed as a likely contender for the nomination, Harris hasn’t come this far without her clashes. In the first debate, she made a stand out impression when she challenged Biden on his bussing policy. Opposing him with an emotional story about a “little girl” who was in the second class to be bussed to school in her county, criticising Biden’s candidacy for having ideas that are part of the past.

Harris has shown the pair have since put their differences aside, as she has taken to Twitter to show her support and endorsement for Biden and their campaign. After all, if she can help Biden to victory, there is a good chance Kamala Harris could be the next US president.

Twitter has, of course, reacted to the news.