Editorial: Voters in Los Angeles and California elected a wave of women to Congress in 2018. For the first time, Congresswoman and Senator Kamala Harris is the only black woman in the U.S. Senate, making her the first black woman to represent a district as large as California. She also became the first member of the U.S. Congress in history to gain national attention by winning the popular vote (she barely lost the top spot in the House race to Republican incumbent Pete Sessions after he had won the statewide vote by nearly 30 percentage points) and the first member of Congress to be elected by a greater margin than President Trump. As a lifelong Californian, I decided to write a post about her win in two parts: first, how Kamala Harris became a U.S. senator, and second, how she came to the top of her career and her political career.
Kamala Harris’s Background
Kamala Harris‘s background is a combination of her mother’s and mother’s mother’s: a professor and a community organizer. She was born in San Francisco, the first child of the family to immigrate to the United States, arriving on June 20, 1967. She grew up around politics in San Francisco and Berkeley, California. As a young woman, she marched for peace as protests against the Vietnam War erupted into demonstrations and riots in the early 80s. She graduated from college in 1991 with a degree in psychology and went on to earn a law degree from the University of California, Los Angeles.
One of her first jobs was with the Coalition for a Sustainable Economy, a nonprofit organization focused on environmental, social and economic justice. While at the organization, she helped develop community-based participatory research methods and was part of a team of people involved in green jobs.
Her father, who is a professor at UC Berkeley, was on staff as a professor who taught history and political science. Her mother was a professor at UC Berkeley who taught philosophy. She is one of nine siblings, including an older sister who was a professor at UCLA, an older brother with a law degree and two brothers—one who is a U.S. diplomat and another who is a history professor at UCLA.