Woman of the Week: Kamala Harris

Natalie Pate

Women make up 51% of the population, 17% of Congress, and 0% of past presidents.


Name: Kamala Devi Harris

Born: October 20, 1964 (age 48) in Oakland, California

Current Office: Attorney General, California

Political Party: Democratic Party

Residence: San Francisco, California

Education: Howard University; Juris Doctor, University of California, Hastings College of the Law


Why she is the Woman of the Week: Harris has been referred to as the “female Obama.” She is of mixed heritage, young, charismatic, confident, and an ambitious Democrat. She is the first female, African-American, and Asian-American to hold the office of attorney general in California, as well as the first person of Indian background to do so in the United States. In September, she snagged a key speaking slot during the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, opening for Bill Clinton on Wednesday. In her speech she addressed the act for which she is most famous—staring down the country’s five major banks by walking out of talks over settlements for Californians going through foreclosure until the banks came back with a better deal. California was the hardest hit by the mortgage crisis, and Harris made sure that California walked away with the largest settlement of any state: $26 billion. She has also maintained her philosophical opposition to the death penalty, even when faced with the ire of the police forces of California when she did not seek the death penalty for a man accused (and later convicted) of killing a cop. National Journal named her a rising star of the Democratic Party, and one blog even predicted that she would be President Obama’s first choice for Supreme Court Justice if he gets that chance.


Background: Harris comes from an interesting background. Her mother, a breast cancer specialist, immigrated to America from Chennai, Tamil Nadu, India in 1960. Her father is a Jamaican-American professor of Economics at Stanford University. She grew up in the ‘60s and ‘70s near the liberal bastion of Berkeley, where her parents attended graduate school, and they took her to many civil rights protests. Her parents later divorced, and Harris and her sister were raised by her mother. After attending Howard University and getting her law degree at University of California, Hastings, she worked as a deputy district attorney where she specialized in child sexual abuse cases and then in the district attorney’s office, heading up the Career Criminal Unit, until she was elected District Attorney of San Francisco in 2003. In this office she created a special Hate Crimes Unit that focused on crimes committed against LGBT children and teens, and she doubled the overall conviction rate of the district. She was named a “Woman of Power” by the National Urban League in 2004.


Key Issues: Harris is obviously dedicated to helping those Californians suffering from debt and foreclosure. According to her website, she focuses on combating transnational gangs, defending the rights of consumers and their privacy, and working with law enforcement to increase the use of technology and “data-driven policing.” Harris supports same-sex marriage and opposed both Prop 22 and Prop 8. She advocates for the strong enforcement of environmental protection laws. She supports San Francisco’s policy of not asking an immigrant about their immigration status during a criminal investigation. Her protection of women’s reproductive rights earned the endorsement of EMILY’s List and she has defended President Obama’s Affordable Care Act. She is also staunchly anti-death penalty.

Her Latest Headline: “Kamala Harris: Using Social Media As Law Enforcement Tool” – Silicon Beat

“I am going to investigate everything.” – Kamala Harris



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