Birth Name: Kamala Devi Harris
Place of Birth: Oakland, Alameda, California, United States
Date of Birth: October 20, 1964
*father – Jamaican
*mother – Tamil Indian
Kamala Harris is an American attorney and politician. She was the Democratic Party’s 2020 nominee for Vice President of the United States, and won the election. She is the first woman elected as either President or Vice President of the country. Kamala has also served as U.S. Senator from California, since January 3, 2017. She was previously District Attorney of San Francisco, from January 8, 2004 to January 3, 2011, and Attorney General of California, from January 3, 2011 to January 3, 2017.
She was also a candidate for the Democratic Party’s nomination for President of the United States in 2020.
Kamala is the daughter of Shyamala (Gopalan), a cancer researcher, breast cancer specialist, and civil rights activist, and Donald Jasper Harris, an economics professor at Stanford University. Her father is Jamaican, born in Saint Anne’s Bay, Kingston, and has African-Jamaican ancestry; he came to the U.S. in 1961. Her mother was an emigrant from Chennai, India, of Tamil Indian descent; she came to the U.S. in 1958. A picture of Kamala’s parents can be seen here. A video of Kamala’s father can be seen here. A picture of Kamala, her sister, and their mother can be seen here.
Kamala is the third person of significant non-white descent to be nominated for U.S. President or Vice President by a major party, after Vice President Charles Curtis, who served from 1929 to 1933, and whose mother was of considerable Native American ancestry, and President Barack Obama, who served from 2009 to 2017, and whose father was a Luo Kenyan.
Kamala is married to entertainment lawyer Douglas Emhoff. Douglas is Jewish.
Kamala’s sister is Maya Harris, a lawyer and public policy advocate. Maya is married to Tony West, who served as U.S. Associate Attorney General. Maya’s daughter, Kamala’s niece, is lawyer and children’s book author Meena Harris.
As a child, Kamala participated in Berkeley’s busing program, as part of desegregation. Her parents divorced. When she was twelve, she moved with her mother and sister to Montréal, Québec, Canada, where her mother worked. Kamala was raised attending both a black Baptist church and a Hindu temple.
Kamala has said:
…if you walked on Hampton’s campus, or Howard’s campus, or Morehouse or Spelman or Fisk [historically black colleges], you would have a much better appreciation for the diaspora, for the diversity, for the beauty in the diversity of who we are as black people… I’m not going to spend my time trying to educate people about who black people are… I am black and I am proud of it… I was born black and I’ll die black and I am proud of it. And I am not gonna make any excuses for it, for anybody, because they don’t understand.
Her name Kamala comes from the Sanskrit word for the lotus flower.
Kamala’s paternal grandfather was Oscar Joseph Harris Brown (the son of Joseph Alexander Harris and Christiana A. “Miss Chrishy” Brown). Oscar was born in Brown’s Town, St Ann Parish, Jamaica. Kamala’s great-grandfather Joseph was a land owner and agriculture exporter, and was the son of Newton A. Harris and Eliza Brown. Kamala’s great-grandmother Christiana was the daughter of Jessian Prince. Kamala’s grandfather Oscar was said to be descended from Hamilton Brown, a plantation and slave owner, who founded the city Brown’s Town; Hamilton was born in County Antrim, Northern Ireland. It is not clear if this line of descent is accurate. The veracity of Kamala’s descent from this Hamilton Brown is discussed here.
Kamala’s paternal grandmother was named Beryl Christie/Finegan (the daughter of Iris Finegan). Iris was the daughter of Patrick Finegan/Fenegon and Mary Watson.
Kamala’s maternal grandfather was named P. V. Gopalan (the son of Venkataraman Iyer and Seethalaksmni/Seethalakshmi). P. V. was born in Painganadu, Thiruvarura, and was a diplomat for India. Venkataraman was the son of Krishna Iyer and Ahilandeswari Krishnaiyer.
Kamala’s maternal grandmother was named Rajam (the daughter of Meenakshi Ayyar). Meenakshi was the daughter of Natesa Ayyar and Janaki.
Margaret Chase Smith was the first woman to launch a notable campaign for a major political party’s presidential nomination, in 1964, for the Republican Party. Geraldine Ferraro was the first woman to have been nominated for Vice President of the United States by a major party, in 1984, and Hillary Clinton is the first woman to have been nominated for the Presidency by a major party, in 2016. Clinton is also the only woman to have won a major party’s presidential primary and/or nominating contest, 23 in 2008 and 34 in 2016, other than Shirley Chisholm, who won three non-traditional contests in 1972.
Kamala is the second person of Indian ancestry to have mounted a major campaign for a party’s nomination for President of the United States. Bobby Jindal was the first (he ran for the 2016 Republican nomination for President).
Kamala is one of three people who were at least partly raised in the Hindu faith to have run a major presidential campaign. Bobby Jindal, who sought the Republican Party’s 2016 nomination, and Tulsi Gabbard, who also sought the Democratic Party’s 2020 nomination, are the others. Of the three, only Tulsi is a practicing Hindu.
Kamala is one of several Asian-Americans to have mounted a notable campaign for a major American political party’s nomination for President of the United States. The others were:
*Hiram Fong (who sought the 1964 and 1968 Republican nominations; Fong was of Chinese descent)
*Patsy Mink (who sought the 1972 Democratic nomination; Mink was of Japanese descent)
*Bobby Jindal (who sought the 2016 Republican nomination; Jindal is of Indian descent)
*Andrew Yang (who sought the 2020 Democratic nomination; Yang’s parents are Taiwanese)
Article about Kamala’s parents and childhood – https://www.mercurynews.com
Snopes.com article about Kamala’s Jamaican background – https://www.snopes.com
Article about media treatment of Kamala’s Indian heritage – https://www.poynter.org
Family background of Kamala’s father – https://www.jamaicaglobalonline.com
Obituary of Kamala’s mother – http://www.legacy.com