Five things to know about Joe Biden's running mate Kamala Harris

Five things to know about Kamala Harris

Harris

Joe Biden has picked Senator Kamala Harris as his running-mate to take on Donald Trump in November.

She is the first Black woman to be named as a vice presidential running mate, the third woman to run for VP and, if elected, would be the first woman to enter the White House as part of the presidential team.

Senator joins the ticket after leaving the race for the nomination in December.

She has since rushed back to Senate, focusing on the disparities marginalised groups have faced during the pandemic, spoken out about Black Lives Matter in the wake of the death of George Floyd, and has made frequent appearances on TV, speaking out about police reform.

On Instagram overnight, she wrote: “Joe Biden is a leader who can unify the American people, because he’s spent his life fighting for the American people. And as president, he will build an America that lives up to our ideals.” 

“I’m honoured to join him as our party’s nominee for Vice President, and do everything it takes to make @JoeBiden our next Commander-in-Chief.”

Clearly, this future potential VP has raw political talent, and she’s not afraid to display it. She publicly endorsed Biden back in March and believes it takes a prosecutor (like herself) to overturn the system Trump has created.

Let’s take a look at her career and life so far and see how she’s made her mark.

1 An experienced prosecutor

Before she was elected to the California Senate in 2016, Harris spent 26 years in the criminal justice system as a prosecutor in her home state of California and then district attorney in San Francisco.

She was elected as state attorney general in 2010, where she championed some progressive reforms in her home state. She instituted a program in San Francisco that offered first-time drug offenders education and work opportunities instead of jail time. She signed a bill to reform the Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency, and for legalising marijuana. One of her signature policy proposals was a tax credit that would provide lower-income families monthly cash payments of up to $US500.

2 She created “Back on Track”

In 2005, Harris created a program aimed at reducing recidivism among low-level drug-trafficking defendants, called “Back on Track.” The program was a pre-trial diversion initiative that targeted young adults between eighteen to thirty who had no history of crime and who were facing their first felony charge for possession or seeking of drugs.

The program cur recidivism rates at an astonishing level, and and the total cost per individual was $5,000 less than the cost of putting an individual into jail.

3 Breaking records (and a lot of firsts)

In 2016, Harris burst onto the national state when she was elected as the second-ever Black woman to serve in the US Senate. She was the first African-American woman to serve as San Francisco’s DA, the first woman of colour to serve as her state’s attorney general, and the first woman of colour to serve California in the US Senate. Oh, and of course, the first woman of colour to be named as a vice presidential running mate. 

4 She had an inspiring, powerful mother

Her parents were both immigrants who arrived in the US to better their professional careers. Her mother, Shyamala Gopalan, was a a breast-cancer scientist who had emigrated from India to focus on nutrition and endocrinology at UC Berkeley.

In her 2018 autobiography, The Truths We Hold, Harris said her mother, “understood very well she was raising two black daughters.”

“She knew that her adopted homeland would see me and my sister as black girls, and she was determined to make sure we would grow into confident black women.”

In May 2019, AP’s Matt Sedensky wrote of Gopalan, “those who knew her say she was dismayed by racial inequality in the U.S.”

“Understanding her girls would be seen as black despite their mixed heritage, she surrounded them with black role models and immersed them in black culture.”

Harris’ father, Donald Harris was a Stanford University Emeritus Professor of Economics, who emigrated from Jamaica. Her parents separated when Kamala was 7 years old.

5 She believes crimes against environment are crimes against people

In 2005, Harris said, “Crimes against the environment are crimes against communicates, people who are often poor and disenfranchised.” During her run for the White House, Harris highlighted environmental justice and signed the fossil fuel pledge to reject money from oil and gas companies.

Climate change is an issue she’s championed for many years in the Senate. In April last year, she released her plan for addressing climate change, demanding $10 trillion in public and private funding to create a carbon-neutral economy.

“I will hold polluters accountable for the damage they inflict upon our environment and set us on a path to a 100 percent clean economy that creates millions of good-paying jobs,” Harris said in a statement. “This crisis demands urgency and boldness. I will act.”

She co-sponsored the Green New Deal resolution and introduced versions of the Climate Equity Act that would require the government to evaluate the impacts of environmental legislation on low-income communities. She introduced an Environmental Justice for All Act, with Senators Tammy Duckworth and Cory Booker this summer, insisting that the government think about low-income and communities of colour in federal permitting and decision making.   

When she was San Francisco’s District Attorney, Harris created an environmental justice unit to fight environmental crimes impacting low-income residents. Once she became the state attorney general, she investigated ExxonMobil’s knowledge of climate change. She has backed efforts to hold fossil fuel perpetrators accountable for their role in the climate crisis by filing a brief in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit and holding Big Oil responsible for resisting action in Congress on climate change.

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