"You're a rock, not just for our dad, but for three generations of our big, blended family," Harris' stepdaughter, Ella, said Wednesday

By Sean Neumann
August 20, 2020 12:31 AM
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California Sen. Kamala Harris' family on Wednesday led up to the historic moment that she was nominated for vice president by the Democratic Party with a montage of loving memories of her as a mom, sister and aunt.

"Growing up, heaven help the poor kid who picked on me because my big sister would be there in a flash ready to have my back," Harris' sister, Maya, 53, said during a video that aired before Harris' acceptance speech on the third night of the all-virtual Democratic National Convention.

"Well now, we've got your back as you and Joe fight to protect our democracy," Maya said, adding, "I love you, I admire you, I am so proud of you."

Harris' sister continued by remembering their mom, Shyamala Gopalan Harris, who died in 2009.

"Even though mommy's not here to see her first daughter step into history," Maya said, "the entire nation will see in your strength, your integrity, your intelligence and your optimism, the values that she raised you with."

Harris became the first Black woman and the first Asian American to be nominated to a major party's presidential ticket when she accepted the party's nomination soon after her family's remarks.

Harris, 55, now joins Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden, 77, on the party's 2020 ticket.

Ella Emhoff, Sen. Kamala Harris' stepdaughter
| Credit: Democtratic National Convention
Maya Harris, Sen. Kamala Harris' sister
| Credit: Democtratic National Convention
Meena Harris, Sen. Kamala Harris' niece
| Credit: Democtratic National Convention

Maya was joined in the video by her daughter, Meena, and Harris' stepdaughter, Ella.

Meena, 35, served on Harris' 2020 campaign as a policy adviser and communications director and said Wednesday that her aunt has been a lifelong "role model, who taught me I could do and be anything I wanted."

Harris' niece wrote an autobiographical children's book based on her mother and aunt, called Kamala and Maya's Big Idea, which was released in June.

Meena said Wednesday that Harris made sure she grew up "surrounded by smart, strong, ambitious women every day."

That comment was reflected by Ella, 21, who also spoke during the promotional video.

Harris' stepdaughter, along with the nominee's 25-year-old stepson, Cole, are the children of Harris' husband, entertainment lawyer Doug Emhoff. They married in 2014 after being introduced on a blind date in Hollywood.

Ella said she and Cole will always know Harris as "the World's Greatest Stepmom."

"You're a rock, not just for our dad, but for three generations of our big, blended family," she added.

Democratic vice presidential nominee Kamala Harris accepts the party's historic nomination on Wednesday night.

Harris often speaks glowingly of her stepchildren and says she remains friends with their mother, Kerstin Emhoff, who was married to Doug for 25 years.

"We’re a very modern family," Harris told PEOPLE recently, during her first joint interview as Biden's running mate. "Their mom is a close friend of mine. We get together for family dinners. Joe and I have a similar feeling that really is how we approach leadership: family in every version that it comes."

From left: Sen. Kamala Harris and her husband, Douglas Emhoff
| Credit: Carolyn Kaster/AP/Shutterstock

Harris' sister was a senior policy adviser for 2016 Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton's campaign and, as a lawyer, served as the executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Northern California.

She was also the chairwoman for Harris' own 2020 presidential bid. The California senator suspended her campaign in December; Biden announced that he chose Harris to join his ticket earlier this month.

“I was absolutely, and remain, so excited about our partnership, and all the potential of our country that has yet to be achieved,” Harris told PEOPLE this week, in her interview with Biden.

For his part, Biden told PEOPLE he thinks Harris is "so damn smart" and, upon announcing she'd join him on the 2020 ticket, he called her a "fearless fighter for the little guy, and one of the country’s finest public servants."