Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden has picked California Senator Kamala Harris, whose mother is a Tamilian from South India, as his vice-presidential running mate for the 2020 Presidential election.
Harris, who was born in Oakland, California, and whose father is Jamaican, will be the first black and Indian American on a major US party ticket. She is also only the fourth woman in history to be chosen for a major party’s presidential ticket.
Harris was on Biden’s shortlist because of her formidable record as a prosecutor and as a Senator in her relatively short stint in the Senate. Although California is a Democratic fortress and Biden does not need her help to win the state, the choice brings a geographical balance to the ticket because the former vice-president is from Delaware on the east coast. She is also expected to be a sparkling debater in a vice-presidential face-off with the staid Mike Pence.
Biden and Harris are expected to make an appearance together in Delaware on Wednesday to present a united front.
Although she considers herself Black, Harris has often spoken of her Indian roots, including visits to Chennai when she was young to spend summers with her grandfather who was a civil servant in the government of India. Her mother Shyamala Gopalan, was a breast cancer researcher who came to the U.S in 1960 to pursue a doctorate in endocrinology at UC Berkeley where she met Donald Harris, a Jamaican who was studying economics. Her parents divorced when she was seven and her mother passed away in 2009. She has a sister, Maya Harris, who is also a political activist and has worked in the Hillary Clinton presidential campaign.