California’s two-term Attorney General Kamala Harris, who is of Jamaican descent, has defeated her opponent Loretta Sanchez in the race to represent California in the United States Senate. Harris and Sanchez were vying for the Democratic seat previously occupied by multi-term Senator Barbara Boxer. Emphasizing that “the stakes are high” throughout her campaign, Harris appealed to the electorate for a chance to fight for middle-class families, children, education, environmental protections, seniors, and immigrant communities. Kamala Harris first became Attorney General of California in 2010 and was re-elected in 2014. She is the first woman, the first African-American, and the first Asian-American to serve as that state’s Attorney General. Harris was born in Oakland, California, and is the daughter of a Jamaican-American father, Donald Harris, who is an economics professor at Stanford University. Her mother is Dr. Shyamala Gopalan Harris, a breast cancer specialist who immigrated from Chennai in India at age 19 to attend the University of California at Berkeley.
Kamala Harris Biography
Kamala Harris was born in Oakland, California and raised with her sister Maya in the East Bay. After attending public schools, her strong commitment to justice and public service led her to Howard University, America’s oldest historically black university, and then to the University of California, Hastings College of the Law.
Harris has spent her entire professional life in the trenches as a courtroom prosecutor. After graduating from U.C. Hastings College of the Law, she took a position in the Alameda County District Attorney’s Office, where she specialized in prosecuting child sexual assault cases. As a Deputy District Attorney she also prosecuted cases for homicide and robbery. She worked at that office from 1990 to 1998 before going on to serve in the San Francisco District Attorney’s Office.
In 1998, Harris was named managing attorney of the Career Criminal Unit of the San Francisco District Attorney’s Office, where she prosecuted three strikes cases and serial felony offenders. She then served as the head of the San Francisco City Attorney’s Division on Families and Children.
As San Francisco DA, Harris – who has been a prosecutor for nearly twenty years – has focused intensively on fighting violent crime. She has increased conviction rates for serious and violent offenses, expanded services to victims of crime and their families, created new prosecution divisions focused on child assault, public integrity and environmental crimes, and launched innovative re-entry initiatives to prevent re-offending. To combat one of San Francisco’s biggest challenges, gun violence, she created a gun specialist team and implemented tough gun charging policies.
District Attorney Harris is the recipient of numerous awards. California’s largest legal newspaper, The Daily Journal, designated Harris as one of the top 75 women litigators in California – the only elected official to receive that honor – as well as one of the top 100 lawyers in the state. She was recognized as a “Woman of Power” by the National Urban League and received the Thurgood Marshall Award from the National Black Prosecutors Association. She has been featured on the Oprah Show and in Newsweek as one of “America’s 20 Most Powerful Women.” She was selected as one of 24 elected leaders from throughout the country to serve as a Rodel Fellow with the Aspen Institute. Additionally, Harris was elected to the Board of Directors of the California District Attorneys Association and is a Vice President of the National District Attorney’s Association.