Kamala Harris made history on Saturday as the first Black woman and South Asian to be elected as vice president of the United States.
She has also become the highest ranking woman ever elected in an American government, an achievement that comes four years after the first woman was nominated to a major party presidential ticket.
Harris has been a rising star in Democratic politics. She formerly served as California’s attorney general before being elected as a US senator.
The 56-year-old ran for the Democratic presidential nomination but ended her campaign earlier than some had expected. She eventually was picked by Joe Biden to join the presidential ticket.
The two will be sworn into office in January. There will now be a race to fill her open Senate seat as she becomes Vice President.
The selection of Biden’s running mate was important, because he will become the oldest president ever elected in America when he is inaugurated at the age of 78.
Who is Kamala Harris?
Harris was born in 1964 to Shyamala Gopalan, from India, and Donald Harris, from Jamaica.
The two met at the University of California, Berkeley, then a hotbed of 1960s activism. Her parents divorced and Harris was raised by her late mother.
Kamala is Sanskrit for “lotus flower,” and Harris gave nods to her Indian heritage throughout the campaign.
When Georgia Sen. David Perdue mocked her name in an October rally, the hashtag #MyNameIs took off on Twitter, with South Asians sharing the meanings behind their names.
The mocking of her name by Republicans, including Trump, was just one of the attacks Harris faced.
Harris attended Howard University, a historical black university, and has campaigned for these historic schools.
Harris often framed her candidacy as part of the legacy — often undervalued — of pioneering Black women who came before her.
They include educator Mary McLeod Bethune, civil rights activist Fannie Lou Hamer and Rep. Shirley Chisholm, the first Black candidate to seek a major party’s presidential nomination, in 1972.
“We’re not often taught their stories,” Harris said in August as she accepted her party’s vice presidential nomination. “But as Americans, we all stand on their shoulders.”
Harris is just the second Black woman elected to the US Senate.
Harris is married to a Jewish man, Doug Emhoff, whose children from a previous marriage call her “Momala.”
Deep political challenges await Harris and Biden
Biden and Harris will face deep challenges including the COVID-19 pandemic and racial tensions in the United States.
Protests spread through the country after a series of police killings of Black Americans came to light earlier this year.
Harris also came under scrutiny for her work as a prosecutor. Trump has sought to paint her as a socialist despite her more centrist record.
She notably made a name for herself for her tough questioning in congressional hearings.