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Voya Celebrates Women's History Month: Kamala Harris

Join us as we learn about women who have made an impact in our history to help us get to where we are today.

Kamala Devi Harris, born in Oakland, California on October 20, 1964 was not the first African-American, South Asian American child born to immigrant parents in the Bay Area, but little did anyone know then that she would become the first in many things to come. ¹

Kamala’s mother, Dr. Shyamala Gopalan, a breast cancer researcher, emigrated from India and landed in California where she met and married Jamaica-born Donald Harris, a Stanford University emeritus professor of economics. ¹

Harris was introduced to activism by her parents early and recounts a story that describes her joining in with protest chants during a civil rights demonstration in the Bay Area – when she was still in a stroller. Kamala spoke up very early and her first protest win was when she and her sister spoke out against a policy prohibiting kids from playing on the lawn of their home. The property owners eventually reversed the rule.

Later, Kamala went onto study at Howard University and after graduating, received her law degree from the University of California, Hastings. Her career started in the Alameda County District Attorney’s office before she was recruited to the San Francisco District Attorney’s office. She quickly made a name for herself fighting for criminal justice reforms and civil rights. ¹

Kamala’s series of “firsts” began in 2003, when she became the first female African-American South Asian American District Attorney of San Francisco and later, was elected as the same first Attorney General of California in 2010. In 2017, Harris became the second African-American and first South Asian American woman to serve as a U.S. Senator and gained national prominence with her positions on healthcare, immigration and tax reform as well as her sharp questioning of the Trump Administrations officials during Senate hearings and Supreme Court confirmations.

After a long campaign run for president in 2019, she ended her bid before the presidential primaries only to be chosen by presidential nominee, Joseph Biden in the summer of 2020 as his running mate. They went on to win in November and Kamala Harris assumed office as the first African-American, South Asian American female vice president of the United States on January 20, 2021.²

Kamala, recognizing her position went on to say this in her November victory speech before a crowd in Wilmington, Delaware; noted in an article entitled; Generations Of Women Who Paved The Way For Her Historic Accession; and “In a white suit in a clear homage to the Suffragettes who fought to get women the right to vote,” stated, “While I may be the first woman in this office, I will not be the last,” “Because every little girl watching tonight sees that this is a country of possibilities.” ³

 

Take a look at the timeline below to learn more about impactful Women in History.

Sources:

  1. Biography.com; Ten things you may not know about Kamala Harris; Brad Witter, Updated January 20, 2021; original January 5, 2021; https://www.biography.com/news/kamala-harris-facts, last accessed February 16, 2021

  2. Wikipedia; https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kamala_Harris; last accessed February 16, 2021

  3. Deadline.com; VP-Elect Kamala Harris Praises “Generations Of Women” Who Paved The Way For Her Historic Accession Lauds Joe Biden, Ignores Trump, Dominic Patten, Ted Johnson, November 7, 2020, https://deadline.com/2020/11/kamala-harris-speech-vice-president-joe-biden-victory-donald-trump-1234611128/ , last accessed February 16, 2021, verbatim: “In a white suit in a clear homage to the Suffragettes who fought to get women the right to vote” and “While I may be the first woman in this office, I will not be the last,” “Because every little girl watching tonight sees that this is a country of possibilities.”


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