Watch Kamala Harris' journey from Berkeley to be 1st Black, Asian woman elected to vice presidency

ByJulian Glover KGO logo
Wednesday, January 20, 2021
Kamala Harris: Journey to be 1st Black, Asian woman elected VP
"Kamala Harris: To Be The First" details her journey of hope from Berkeley to Washington, where she will soon begin a new chapter as the first Black and Asian woman elected vice president of the United States.

SAN FRANCISCO -- From San Francisco district attorney to California attorney general, U.S. senator, and now the first Black and Asian woman elected vice president of the United States, Kamala Harris has a history of breaking barriers.

Long before entering politics, Harris' early childhood in Berkeley gave her an opportunity to be an agent of change when she was bused across town to be part of the second class to integrate her public school, Thousand Oaks Elementary School.

Harris first ran for public office as San Francisco District Attorney in 2002, defeating her former boss to become the first African-American woman to serve as district attorney in California. Harris is biracial, identifying as both Black and Indian.

Her work in the Bay Area inspired future leaders, including current San Francisco Mayor London Breed.

RELATED: How to pronounce Kamala Harris' name and what it means

"She's been a mentor, but she's more like a mother," says San Francisco Mayor London Breed. "I think the name 'Momala' is so perfect for her because she provides you with advice and support, but she also tries to find out what is going on with you and are you taking care of yourself."

Harris' next stop on her road to the White House would be at the California state capitol as the first African American, first woman and first Asian American to serve as California attorney general. From there, she filled the Senate seat long held by Barbara Boxer and became the second Black woman elected to the U.S. Senate.

With her groundbreaking vice presidential win, Harris is inspiring another generation, especially young people from Oakland, where she was born.

"It's really an inspiration knowing that she was born in Oakland, and like she was around the same streets," explains 14-year-old Anevay Cruz. "it's really inspiring for the community."

RELATED: Sen. Kamala Harris recalls Oakland roots in first appearance with Joe Biden

"She's representing, you know, all the young Black and Indian girls," says Harris' former campaign manager Debbie Mesloh. "She's representing so many women that look at her on that debate stage and say, 'Wow, there she is.'"

In the weeks leading up to the election, ABC7 spoke with those who surrounded Harris throughout her journey to answer the question: Who is Kamala Harris?

"Kamala Harris: To Be The First," a new ABC7 documentary, details Harris' journey from her childhood in the Bay Area to her formative years at Howard University and then her rise to political prominence in San Francisco, the state of California, and the Senate.

Childhood friends, colleagues, mentors and young people she's inspired discuss Harris' rise to the vice presidency and her impact for generations to come.

You can watch "Kamala Harris: To Be The First" in the player above or through your favorite streaming service.

Kamala Harris timeline of events

  • 1964: Kamala Devi Harris born at Kaiser Hospital in Oakland, Calif. to Shyamala Gopalan and Donald Harris
  • 1967: Sister Maya is born
  • 1970: Attends Thousand Oaks Elementary School in Berkeley, Calif. as part of the second class to integrate her public school
  • 1971: Parents divorce
  • 1976: Harris, Maya and her mother move to Montreal, Canada
  • 1982: Attends Howard University in Washington, D.C.
  • 1986: Graduates Howard University with a degree in political science and economics
  • 1989: Earns law degree from UC Hastings College of Law in San Francisco
  • 1990-1998: Serves as deputy district attorney for Alameda County
  • 2004-2010: First female district attorney in San Francisco's history, and the first African American woman and South Asian American woman in California to hold the office
  • 2011-2017: First African-American and first woman to serve as California's Attorney General
  • 2014: Married Douglas Emhoff
  • 2016: Elected to U.S. Senate as the first Indian American woman and second Black woman to serve as a senator
  • Jan. 2019: Announces bid for the presidency
  • Dec. 2019: Drops out of the presidential race
  • Aug. 2020: Joe Biden announces Harris as his running mate

VIDEO: Video shows South Asians for Biden supporter's raw reaction to VP pick Kamala Harris

"I feel seen and heard today." Co-California State Director of South Asians for Biden breaks down in tears after he announces Sen. Kamala Harris as his running mate.