Vice President Kamala Harris' Career in Photos
From district attorney to vice president, Kamala Harris has made history throughout her impressive career
Kamala Harris graduated from Howard University with degrees in political science and economics in 1986.
The former California state senator wrote on Instagram that, for her, "Howard is home."
She explained, "At Howard, you can be a football player and a valedictorian. You can be a budding computer scientist and a poet. You can have a 4.0, intern on Capitol Hill, and still find time to hang out with friends on the weekend."
Howard was also the first place Harris ran for elected office.
The vice president wrote of her experience, "Howard taught me that while you will often find that you're the only one in the room who looks like you, or who has had the experiences you’ve had, you must remember: you are never alone. Your entire Bison family will be in that room with you, cheering you on, as you speak up and speak out. We’re with you every step of the way."
After getting her law degree from the University of California, Hastings College of the Law in 1989, Harris served as a deputy district attorney in Oakland, California, from 1990 to 1998.
Harris – whose mom and dad immigrated to the United States from India and Jamaica, respectively – credits her late mother, Shyamala Gopalan Harris, for influencing her to become a politician.
"My mother always used to say, 'don’t sit around and complain about things, do something,' " Harris shared on Instagram. "I’ve tried to follow that advice every day and live by the example she set."
Harris was elected district attorney in California in 2003. She was the first female D.A. in San Francisco's history, as well as the first Black woman and South Asian American woman ever elected to serve in the role.
Ahead of inauguration day, Harris shared why she became a prosecutor and ultimately followed the path that led her to the role of Vice President of the United States.
She wrote on Instagram that, in high school, her best friend revealed to her that she was being molested. Harris recalled, "A big part of the reason I wanted to be a prosecutor was to protect people like her and change the system. In fact, a big part of my career has been about protecting women and children, including prosecuting child sexual assault cases, and ensuring that children had a shot at being great."
Harris explained, "In our system of justice, we believe that a harm against any one of us is a harm against all of us. That’s why when we file a case, it’s not filed in the name of the victim. It reads, 'The People.' And my whole life, I’ve only had one client: the people."
She concluded, after sharing some of her proudest accomplishments, "Ever since that moment in high school, I knew I wanted to protect people — and that is what I did and will continue to do in the White House."
In 2008, the Supreme Court struck down Proposition 22, which defined marriage as between a man and a woman. But shortly after, California's Proposition 8 was introduced and later passed, beginning a freeze on same-sex marriages in the stage.
In 2010, Harris was elected the Attorney General of California. Again, Harris blazed a trail as the first woman, the first African-American, and the first South Asian American to hold the title in California's history.
Harris was an early supporter of President Barack Obama. Here, she is seen greeting him in San Francisco, California in 2012.
When Joe Biden selected Harris as his running mate in 2020, Obama said in a statement, "I've known Senator Harris for a long time. She is more than prepared for the job. She's spent her career defending our Constitution and fighting for folks who need a fair shake. Her own life story is one that I and so many others can see ourselves in: a story that says that no matter where you come from, what you look like, how you worship, or who you love, there's a place for your here. It's a fundamentally American perspective, one that's led us out of the hardest of times before. And it's a perspective we can all rally behind right now."
In 2012, Harris addressed the Democratic National Convention, re-nominating President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden ahead of that year's presidential election.
In 2013, the Supreme Court struck down the Defense of Marriage Act and dismissed Proposition 8. Harris officiated the first same-sex wedding in California since 2008 between Prop 8 plaintiffs Kristin Perry and Sandra Stier.
In 2014, Harris married Doug Emhoff in a ceremony officiated by her sister, Maya. Harris shared on Instagram of her husband, "We were set up on a blind date in 2013, and it was practically love at first sight. It felt like we had known each other forever."
Harris is the first step-mom V.P., as well! Emhoff has two children, Cole, 26, and Ella, 21, from a previous marriage.
In 2016, Harris became the second Black woman and first South Asian American to be elected to the Senate.
In 2017, she was sworn in by her future running mate, Joe Biden, as her husband, Doug Emhoff, held the Bible on which she swore.
In 2018, Harris attended the Senate Judiciary Committee confirmation hearing for Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh. Harris' past as a prosecutor has often shown through during her questioning in Senate hearings.
In January 2019, Harris read her book, Superheros Are Everywhere, to a group of children at Barnes & Noble in Los Angeles. She has written three books, and had several written about her, both for children and adults.
Also in January 2019, Harris announced that she would be running for president.
In March 2019, Harris paused to chat with some young girls while holding a a town hall event in North Las Vegas, Nevada.
In October 2019, Harris went toe-to-toe with the other Democratic candidates at the Democratic Party presidential debate at Otterbein University. Here, Harris is pictured with Bernie Sanders (center) and Joe Biden (right).
She would drop out of the presidential race in December 2019.
On Aug. 11, 2020, presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden announced that he had selected Harris as his running mate, making her the first woman of color to be on a major-party presidential ticket.
Harris told PEOPLE of being asked to step into the role, “I was absolutely, and remain, so excited about our partnership, and all the potential of our country that has yet to be achieved.”
Harris continued to campaign both alongside and apart from Biden, even as the ongoing coronavirus pandemic meant that those events were socially distanced and smaller. Here, she speaks outside Whites Barbershop in Raleigh, North Carolina, in September 2020.
In November 2020, Harris made history again by becoming first female vice president of the United States.
"While I may be the first woman in this office, I will not be the last," the vice president-elect said in her first speech to the nation.
Harris is also the United States' first Black and South Asian vice president.