Joe Biden‘s presidential inauguration has literally been a long time coming. The career politician first ran for president back in 1988 and now, more than three decades later, he’s finally set to take the oath of office he’s long been eyeing.
Conversely, the rise of Kamala Devi Harris from California district attorney to the U.S. Senate to becoming the first Black vice president has been nothing short of impressive, which is to say nothing of how swift it’s all been.
From the outset of Harris’ rise through the Democratic Party’s ranks, she’s been compared to Barack Obama, and it’s not just because of their shared skin color or mixed ethnic heritage. Former “Today” show host Matt Lauer was just one of the many people who dubbed Harris “the female Obama” more than a decade ago, a comparison that she humbly accepted at the time.
“There are many similar aspects between my and the President’s life,” Harris said at the time. “I’m just trying to be attorney general.”
Her inaugural term as California AG did not come without controversy, however.
Harris was firmly behind a statewide anti-truancy law that allowed California officials to prosecute parents when their kids don’t show up to school. Harris smartly tied crime rates with dropout rates, but the solutions were alarmingly punitive. Championing that policy has dogged her throughout her career. She would later say she regretted the law.
Still, in 2014, Harris’ name was mentioned as a possible U.S. Attorney General replacement after Eric Holder resigned, the first hint that her brilliance would carry her well beyond California.
Two years later, Harris was considered for a potential vice presidential running mate after Hillary Clinton won the Democratic presidential nomination. There was also speculation that she was being considered as a Supreme Court nominee following the death of Justice Antonin Scalia.
But Harris was firmly ensconced in her own political campaign and ultimately became the second Black woman to ever be elected to the U.S. Senate.
Harris’ political career began more than 30 years ago when she was elected as the Deputy District Attorney of Alameda County, California, from 1990 to 1998. She is also the first Black and Indian woman to be attorney general in California. Notably, she was endorsed by then-Vice President Biden.
“Growing up, I watched my parents marching, shouting and fighting for justice,” Harris told HelloBeautiful in 2016. “Their participation in the civil rights movement inspired me to pursue a career as a prosecutor, speaking up for and defending the voiceless and vulnerable: children, victims of crimes, seniors and immigrants.”
She added: “In my work as California’s Attorney General, I’ve continued that commitment to equality and social justice, rejecting false choices and embracing real solutions that strengthen our communities and improve public safety.”
Keep reading to revisit some of the memorable moments from her illustrious political career that, by some estimations, still has an upward trajectory.
1. 2010: Candidate For Calif. Attorney GeneralSource:Getty
Then-San Francisco District Attorney Kamala Harris ran for California Attorney General in 2010.
Pictured: Kamala Harris appeared for a press conference in downtown Los Angeles on September 27, 2010.
2. 2010: Kamala Harris Wins California AG ElectionSource:Getty
Pictured: California Attorney General-elect Kamala Harris holds a press conference to discuss the hard-fought Attorney General race. The vote tally took over a month to decide the outcome, with each side leading at various times. Harris finally won with an approximately 50 thousand vote lead.
3. 2016: Kamala Harris Becomes A U.S. SenatorSource:Getty
Kamala Harris beat runner-up Loretta Sanchez to secure a position in the U.S. Senate in a landmark moment in which she became the first Black woman to be elected to the California Senate and only the second Black female senator in national history.
4. 2017: Opposing Jeff Sessions’ Nomination To Be U.S. AGSource:Getty
“It is the belief that no matter who you are, whether young or old, rich or poor, gay or straight. Whether you’re a child from Oakland or a child of Birmingham,” Harris said in her Senate speech. “Whether you came here by plane to escape the hardships of war and torture, or by foot to build a better life. Whether you’ve been the victim of gun violence or opioid addiction. Whether you’re paid less than others doing the same work, or stopped at a red light because of the color of your skin–you deserve an Attorney General who recognizes the full human quality of all people.”
5. 2018: Kamala Harris Hints She’s Running For PresidentSource:Getty
From appearing on talk shows like “Ellen” to increasing funding for HBCUs from $244.7 million to $279.6 million to refusing to speak at the University of California at Berkeley’s graduation ceremony due to a labor strike there, the consensus was that Harris was seemingly suggesting that she was aiming to be Madam President.
6. 2018: Introduces Bill To Legalize MarijuanaSource:Getty
Kamala Harris threw her support behind Cory Booker’s Marijuana Justice Act as a way to achieve “restorative justice.”
7. 2018: Introduces Bill Addressing Black Maternal HealthSource:Getty
Harris addressed disproportionate health realities for Black women with the Maternal Care Access and Reducing Emergencies Act — also called the Maternal CARE Act — which would allow for $30 million to be used toward saving mothers’ lives.
Pictured: Sen. Kamala Harris and actress Yara Shahidi speak on stage at The United State of Women Summit 2018 in Los Angeles.
8. 2018: Senate Votes To Outlaw Lynching For The First Time In HistorySource:Getty
Harris joined the Senate’s two other Black senators—Democrat Cory Booker and Republican Sen. Tim Scott—to introduce the Justice for Victims of Lynching Act of 2018. The U.S. Senate unanimously approved it to make mob lynching a federal civil rights crime–after almost 200 failed attempts to pass anti-lynching legislation over a century.
9. 2019: Harris Launches Her Presidential CampaignSource:Getty
Kamala Harris made her presidential bid official when she formally announced her candidacy during a rousing speech in front of thousands of fans in her hometown of Oakland, California.
10. 2019: Kamala Harris Wins 2nd Democratic DebateSource:Getty
Despite the impressive collective political experience that she was facing on that debate stage in Miami, it was the California senator who came across as the most presidential during the second Democratic debate.
11. 2019: Kamala Harris Annihilates Meghan McCain ON Live TV
When TV villain Meghan McCain tried to bait Kamala Harris into bad-mouthing Joe Biden, the then-U.S. Senator was ready:
“Hold on… We’re on a debate stage, and if you have not prepared and you’re not ready for somebody to point out a difference of opinion about the history of segregation in our country and what was necessary to deal with that, which at that time was busing, then you’re probably not ready.”
12. 2019: Kamala Harris Compares Trump To ‘A Really Small Dude’Source:Getty
Citing what she said was Trump’s “fragile ego,” Harris during the third Democratic debate likened him to the eponymous character in the classic piece of literature, “The Wizard of Oz.” Saying that he talks a big game without actually backing any of it up, Harris said Trump was like the big disappointment when readers and viewers finally meet the actual wizard.
“When you pull back the curtain it’s a really small dude,” Harris said with a straight face while the audience applauded.
13. 2019: Kamala Harris Suspends Presidential CampaignSource:Getty
Harris cited a lack of funding to keep her campaign afloat, telling her supporters that “my campaign for president simply doesn’t have the financial resources we need to continue.” She reportedly said that she had “deep regret” for ending her campaign but that her announcement was also accompanied by “deep gratitude” before she hinted at what’s next for her: “But I want to be clear with you: I am still very much in this fight.”
14. 2020: Kamala Harris Focuses On Trump’s Impeachment TrialSource:Getty
“I am focused on my job, which is so much bigger…It is my responsibility – not just a job to be focused on this impeachment,” Harris said about a month after suspending her presidential campaign. “And, that’s where my head is.”
15. 2020: Kamala Harris Endorses Joe Biden For PresidentSource:Getty
“There is no one better prepared than Joe to steer our nation through these turbulent times, and restore truth, honor, and decency to the Oval Office. He is kind and endlessly caring, and he truly listens to the American people,” she wrote in part. “You can see in his eyes how he takes to heart the experiences of mothers and fathers working to make ends meet and worrying about whether their children can be safe in their classroom, or young people who fight tirelessly to tackle climate change as they ask for a fair shot at the future in front of them. And with a lifetime in public service, Joe has a proven track record of getting things done.”
16. 2020: Joe Biden Picks Kamala Harris To Be His VP Running Mate
Biden made Black history — and American history — by making Harris the first African American woman to be chosen to run for the prestigious political post.
17. 2020: Kamala Harris Accepts Democratic VP NominationSource:Getty
Harris paid a moving tribute to Black women while accepting her nomination to be Democrats’ candidate for vice president on the third night of the Democratic National Convention. As the first woman of color to enjoy the distinction, Harris made sure to first recognize the Black women who paved the way for her to be in such a historic position while delivering her keynote address.
“Without fanfare or recognition, they organized, testified, rallied, marched, and fought — not just for their vote, but for a seat at the table. These women and the generations that followed worked to make democracy and opportunity real in the lives of all of us who followed,” Harris said before running down a veritable who’s who of Black women who played historic roles in politics.
“Mary Church Terrell and Mary McLeod Bethune. Fannie Lou Hamer and Diane Nash. Constance Baker Motley and Shirley Chisholm,” Harris said while rattling off the names of the civil rights leaders. “We’re not often taught their stories. But as Americans, we all stand on their shoulders.”
18. 2020: Kamala Harris Debates Mike PenceSource:Getty
The fly on Mike Pence’s head was a distraction during the vice presidential debate, but Kamala Harris stayed on message despite his frequent interruptions of her that prompted her to repeat: “Mr. Vice President, I’m speaking.”
As the first black woman to ever participate in a Vice Presidential debate, Harris took umbrage to what was later described as disrespectful comments to a woman.
“I will not sit here and be lectured by the vice president on what it means to enforce the laws of our country,” Harris said on the debate stage. “I’m the only one on this stage who has personally prosecuted everything from child sexual assault to homicide.”
19. 2020: Kamala Harris Calls Out Amy Coney Barrett During SCOTUS Confirmation Hearing
Kamala Harris called out Amy Coney Barrett for not acknowledging why Trump really nominated her for the Supreme Court: To repeal Obamacare and reverse Roe v. Wade, the landmark abortion law.
But when Harris asked Barrett if she thought that “voting discrimination still exists,” the judge balked.
“Senator Harris, I will not comment on what any justice said or whether an opinion is right or wrong or endorse that proposition,” Barrett said.
Harris pressed her: “Well, I’m asking you, do you call it a proposition or a fact? Are you saying you do not agree with the fact?”
After another non-answer, Harris asked again directly: “Do you believe that voting discrimination exists in America in any form?”
Finally, Barrett said, “I’m not going to express an opinion because these are very charged issues. They have been litigated in the courts, and so I will not engage on that question.
20. Joe Biden and Kamala Harris Win The 2020 ElectionSource:Getty
With Joe Biden’s dramatic come from behind win, Kamala Harris made history to become the first Black woman vice president-elect.
21. 2021: Kamala Harris Is Sworn In To Become First Black U.S. Vice PresidentSource:Getty
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