First woman of color on a major party ticket
By SHERI GASSAWAY
After weeks of speculation, Joe Biden has selected California Sen. Kamala Harris as his vice presidential running mate, the first Black woman on a major party ticket in a U.S. presidential race.
Harris, 55, made her own run for the White House and is also the first Asian-American on a major presidential ticket. Her parents were immigrants, her mother from India and her father from Jamaica.
She became only the second Black female U.S. senator in history when elected in 2016 and will be relied on to help mobilize African-Americans, the Democratic Party’s most loyal constituency.
A former prosecutor and state attorney general in California, Harris is known for her sometimes aggressive questioning style in the Senate.
As a presidential candidate, she took Biden to task, but they put their differences aside, and Harris ultimately endorsed Biden after dropping out of the race in December.
In announcing her as his running mate, Biden called Harris a “fearless fighter for the little guy, and one of the country’s finest public servants.”
Harris said Biden would “unify the American people” and “build an America that lives up to our ideals.”
‘A CHAMPION FOR WORKING PEOPLE’
Organized Labor was quick to show its support for Harris, calling her “a champion for working people.”
“Kamala Harris has spent her career tackling some of the most critical issues facing working families,” AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka said. “As California’s attorney general, she held big banks accountable in the wake of the housing crisis, prosecuted employers for stealing our wages and advanced criminal justice reform.
“As a U.S. senator, she has achieved a perfect AFL-CIO lifetime score, working to create a fairer process for forming a union and protecting our health care and retirement security,” Trumka said. “We look forward to electing her America’s next vice president.”
WOMAN OF MANY FIRSTS
Harris became the district attorney of the city and county of San Francisco in 2003, and was later elected the first African-American and first woman to serve as California’s attorney general.
In 2017, she was sworn in as the second African-American woman and first South Asian-American senator in U.S. history. She was also the first Black and Indian American woman to represent California in the Senate.
Harris serves on the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, Select Committee on Intelligence, Committee on the Judiciary and Committee on the Budget.
Since taking office, she has introduced and co-sponsored legislation to raise wages for working people, reform the broken criminal justice system, make healthcare a right for all Americans, address the epidemic of substance abuse, support veterans and military families and expand access to childcare for working parents.
A MOMENT OF NATIONAL CRISIS
Harris joins Biden at a moment of unprecedented national crisis. The coronavirus pandemic has claimed the lives of more than 165,000 people in the U.S., far more than the toll experienced in other countries. Business closures and disruptions resulting from the pandemic have caused severe economic problems, and unrest has emerged across the country as Americans protest racism.
“The President’s mismanagement of the pandemic has plunged us into the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression, and we’re experiencing a moral reckoning with racism and systemic injustice that has brought a new coalition of conscience to the streets of our country demanding change,” Harris said, joining Biden at their first joint event last week in Wilmington, Del.
“America is crying out for leadership. Yet we have a President who cares more about himself than the people who elected him,” she said. “As someone who has presented my fair share of arguments in court, the case against Donald Trump and Mike Pence is open and shut.”
Harris said Trump’s failure to take the virus seriously, get coronavirus testing up and running and offer a national strategy for ending the pandemic has led to 16 million people without jobs, “a crisis of poverty, of homelessness” that is “afflicting Black, brown, and indigenous people the most” and “with more than 165,000 lives cut short, many with loved ones who never got the chance to say goodbye.
“It didn’t have to be this way,” she said.
If Harris wins the vice presidency, she will be the first woman to serve in the position. Only two other women – Democrat Geraldine Ferraro in 1984 and Republican Sarah Palin in 2008 – have been nominated as running mates on major party tickets.