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Kamala Harris Sworn in as First Female Vice President in United States' 244-Year History

Vice President Kamala Harris was sworn in alongside President Joe Biden on January 20, 2021.

In a historic first, Kamala Harris was sworn in as the first female vice president in America's 244-year history alongside President Joe Biden! When he announced Harris' historic selection in August, Biden praised Harris as a “fearless fighter for the little guy, and one of the country’s finest public servants.” The daughter of an immigrant mother from India and an immigrant father from Jamaica, Harris will be the first African American and first South Asian American vice president in history. Harris has said that she hopes to be the first of many capable women in her new role: "My mother would look at me and she’d say, 'Kamala, you may be the first to do many things, but make sure you are not the last. That’s why breaking those barriers is worth it. As much as anything else, it is also to create that path for those who will come after us."

Harris was born in Oakland, California in 1964, and her parents instilled in her the importance of political engagement from the time she was a baby in a stroller at civil rights marches. After her parents divorced when she was seven, she was raised primarily by her mother, Shyamala Gopalan, who had a tremendous influence on her. "My mother, she raised my sister and me, and she was tough," recounted Harris. "Our mother was all of 5 feet tall, but if you ever met her, you would've thought she was 10 feet tall." When she was 12, Harris moved with her mother and sister to Montreal, Canada where her mother had a research job. In one of her first forays into activism at age 13, she organized children to successfully challenge a rule that kids couldn't play soccer outside of their apartment building.

After graduating from high school in Quebec in 1981, Harris returned to the U.S. to attend Howard University in Washington, DC. She graduated in 1986 with a degree in political science and economics and went on to attend University of California, Hastings College of the Law where she earned her Juris Doctor in 1989. Harris soon established herself as a capable district attorney and eventually became the first person of color elected District Attorney of San Francisco in 2002. She was then elected Attorney General of California in 2010 and re-elected in 2014. After long-time Senator Barbara Boxer announced plans to retire in 2016, Harris ran for her seat and was elected as the junior senator from California in 2016. In that role, she gained more national prominence, especially for her pointed questioning of then Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh regarding accusations of sexual assault.

In January 2019, Harris announced her candidacy for president, joining a crowded field of candidates in the Democratic primary. Although she tied for the most donations raised in the day following an announcement, she struggled to generate enthusiasm for her candidacy around the country and withdrew from the race in December 2019. After Biden committed to choosing a woman to be his running mate in March, speculation grew that Harris was the frontrunner and, in August, he announced that Harris was joining his ticket as vice president. In an interview with 60 Minutes, Biden listed the reasons he felt she was the perfect pick: "Number one: Her values. Number two: She is smart as a devil. Number three: She has a backbone like a ramrod. Number four: She is really principled. And number five: She has had significant experience in the largest state in the union, running a Justice Department that’s only second in size to the United States Justice Department."

Harris will now go down in history as the first female vice president, and she has hopes of inspiring many women to come after her: "I've been a proud mentor to many women seeking public office, because I believe we need more women at all levels of government. Women have an equal stake in our future and should have an equal voice in our politics. These are challenging times, but I believe getting more women to run for office is a big part of the solution."

Books About Kamala Harris For All Ages

Kamala and Maya’s Big Idea

Kamala and Maya’s Big Idea

Written by: Meena Harris
Illustrated by: Ana Ramírez González
Recommended Age: 4 - 8

Kamala and Maya spent days staring at their empty apartment courtyard before coming up with a great idea: it would be the perfect spot for a playground! It's not long before the girls have plans for the playground of their dreams... but making it happen is a project that's too big for two kids to manage on their own. Fortunately, the pair are able to reach out to supportive family, friends, and neighbors, and soon they've built a space that everyone can enjoy! Author Meena Harris draws from a true story about the childhood of her aunt, US Senator Kamala Harris, and her mother, lawyer and policy expert Maya Harris, to create an empowering picture book about the power of cooperation and community organizing.

Superheroes Are Everywhere

Superheroes Are Everywhere

Written by: Kamala Harris
Illustrated by: Mechal Renee Roe
Recommended Age: 4 - 8

When Kamala Harris was a girl, she loved superheroes, and dreamed of being one herself. But when she got older, she started to realize that superheroes didn't have to wear a cape and soar through the air: in fact, superheroes were everywhere! Whenever you do a good deed, make someone feel special, or stand up for what's right, you're a superhero — which means you can make the world a better place. This empowering book, which includes a Hero Code and a timeline of Harris' career, is an inspiring look at what it really takes to save the day.

Kamala Harris: Rooted in Justice

Kamala Harris: Rooted in Justice

Written by: Nikki Grimes
Illustrated by: Laura Freeman
Recommended Age: 5 - 9

Kamala Harris was still using a pacifier when she joined her parents at civil rights marches! As she grew up, she also grew a belief in freedom and justice — one which drove her to become a lawyer and a politician, using her voice to speak for those who could not. When the time came for the Democratic Party to choose a candidate for president, she threw her hat in the ring... and even though she wasn't chosen, she knew her story wasn't over. Before long, she was setting her sights on a new role: the vice presidential nominee for the 2020 election. Nikki Grimes' elegant poetry, which frames the story as a conversation between a girl and her mother, and luminous illustrations by Laura Freeman, create a portrait of a woman who knows that she will never give up on what matters.

Isabella: Girl In Charge

Isabella: Girl In Charge

Written by: Jennifer Fosberry
Illustrated by: Mike Litwin
Recommended Age: 5 - 9

The little girl from My Name Is Not Isabella is back, and this time, she's urging her parents along through the morning of a very special event! Unfortunately, in her family's democracy, a two-to-one vote says she still has to eat breakfast and brush her teeth. But as she campaigns her way out the door, Isabella pays tribute to women who were the first to hold a variety of political offices in a celebration of women in American politics. Featured women include the first female mayor, Susanna Madora Salter, the first female governor Nellie Tayloe Ross, the first woman elected to Congress Jeannette Rankin, and the first female Cabinet member Frances Perkins.

Who Is Kamala Harris?

Who Is Kamala Harris?

Written by: Kirsten Anderson
Illustrated by: Manuel Gutierrez
Recommended Age: 8 - 12

Kamala Harris came from a family that valued activism and justice, and she wanted to make a difference. But she faced many obstacles over her life, from her parents' divorce to failing her first try at the bar exam. However, her passion and perseverance drove her through the legal ranks: she became district attorney for San Francisco, attorney general for California, and a senator fighting for women's rights. And on November 7, 2020, she became the first woman and first African-American and South Asian-American person to be elected vice president. The Who Was? biography series presents this Who HQ NOW book — focused on current events and trending topics — which introduces young readers to the events that shaped Harris' life and America's future.

A Woman In The House (And Senate)

How Women Came to Washington and Changed the Nation

A Woman In The House (And Senate)

How Women Came to Washington and Changed the Nation

Written by: Ilene Cooper
Illustrated by: Elizabeth Baddeley
Recommended Age: 8 - 14

Beginning with the women's suffrage movement and going all the way through the results of the 2018 election, Ilene Cooper deftly covers more than a century of U.S. history in order to highlight the influential and diverse group of female leaders who opened doors for women in politics as well as the nation as a whole! This updated edition of Cooper's book, complete with lively illustrations and archival photographs, also includes a glossary, index, and chart of all the women who have served in Congress. It's a great way to introduce tweens and teens to women in the broader political world.

Leading the Way: Women In Power

Leading the Way: Women In Power

Recommended Age: 9 and up

Women may not have always been given a seat at the tables of power — so they, in the words of Shirley Chisholm, brought a folding chair! This inspiring volume pays tribute to women past and present who demanded their right to a voice in the political process, from suffragists like Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Ida B. Wells-Barnett, to early politicians like Victoria Woodhull, Bella Abzug, and Jeannette Rankin, to today's trailblazers like Elizabeth Warren, Kamala Harris, and Tammy Duckworth. Fifty capsule biographies of American women in politics give young readers a sense of the scope of women's impact on the country, from Frances Perkin's labor protections to Ruth Bader Ginsburg's key legal arguments and decisions. It's an exciting book that's sure to inspire a new generation of girls and women determined to change the world.

The Truths We Hold: An American Journey (Young Readers Edition)

The Truths We Hold: An American Journey (Young Readers Edition)

Written by: Kamala Harris
Recommended Age: 12 and up

Kamala Harris is a pioneering vice presidential candidate — and it was the values and influences of her childhood that led her to a political career. In this young readers edition of her adult memoir The Truths We Hold, Harris tells her own story and explores how her family and community taught her to fight for fairness and justice. She examines her work as a lawyer, an attorney general, and a senator, and lays bare the professional and personal challenges she faced along the way. Most importantly, she tells young readers that, when things seem darkest, it's time to step up: "Do we retreat or do we fight? I say we fight."

The Truths We Hold: An American Journey

The Truths We Hold: An American Journey

Written by: Kamala Harris
Recommended Age: Adults

Kamala Harris has a vision for America, one where shared purpose leads to shared effort and shared success. In her memoir The Truths We Hold, Harris uses the story of her life — a child of immigrants and activists, a lawyer with a passion for justice, and a politician with a drive to bring people together — to explore how we can come together in challenging times. She explores how her experiences as a prosecutor and District Attorney changed the way she thought about difficult issues around crime, poverty, and more, and how divisive leadership convinces people that we are more different than alike. This fascinating memoir is a unique look at both Harris' life and the power of cooperation to build a nation. This title is also available in a young readers edition for ages 12 and up.

Kamala Harris Action Figure

Kamala Harris Action Figure

Manufacturer: FCTRY
Recommended Age: 3 and up

During the 2020 presidential campaign, Junior Senator Kamala Harris, exploded onto the national stage with her bold voice and fresh ideas, fighting for the Democratic nomination — and then became Joe Biden's vice presidential pick, paving the way for America's first female VP! This 6" posable action figure from FCTRY is the perfect way to pay tribute to this groundbreaking politician. You can keep it inside its collector box, or it stands on any flat surface for display!

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