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Who is Kamala Harris?

Take a closer look at the Democratic presidential candidate.

Sen. Kamala Devi Harris

Born: October 20, 1964

Birthplace: Oakland, California

Age on Inauguration Day: 56

Party affiliation: Democrat

Campaign website: kamalaharris.org

Education: Hastings University (Bachelor’s degree in political science and economics); UC Hastings College of Law (Juris Doctor)

Professions: Prosecuting attorney

Public office: San Francisco district attorney (2004-2011); California attorney general (2011-2016); U.S. Senator from California, elected in 2016.

Personal: Harris and husband, Douglas Emhoff, have been married since 2014. She is stepmother to Emhoff's two children.

Life and career highlights

  • First name is pronounced KAH-mah-lah.
  • Her parents are immigrants. Her father is Jamaican and her mother is Indian.
  • First woman to be elected California attorney general.
  • As attorney general, she refused to defend California’s ban on same-sex marriage (Proposition 8), saying “it violates the Constitution.”
  • Helped deliver a $25-billion nationwide settlement in 2012 with five mortgage companies over abuses during the foreclosure crisis. However, Harris was criticized for reportedly not delivering everything she initially promised.
  • Harris’ prosecutorial record came under scrutiny in a Jan. 17, 2019, opinion piece in The New York Times that criticized her repeated claim that she was a "progressive prosecutor.” Law professor Lara Bazelon claimed Harris opposed or ignored progressive efforts at criminal justice reforms. Harris has argued it was a "false choice" to decide between supporting the police and advocating for greater scrutiny of law enforcement.
  • Known for tough questioning as a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee. Received support via social media after she was interrupted by colleagues as she was questioning witnesses.

Sources: Britannica.com; New York Times; Ballotpedia; Associated Press, LA Times; Reuters; NBC News

Credit: Getty Images
Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) speaks to reporters after announcing her candidacy for President of the United States, at Howard University, her alma mater, on January 21, 2019 in Washington, DC. (Al Drago/Getty Images)

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