Everything you don't know about Kamala Harris' San Francisco Bay Area roots

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- Kamala Harris, the 2020 vice presidential Democratic nominee, is no stranger to America. As a U.S. Senator from California, she's gone viral for grilling witnesses in Congressional testimony. When she ran for president last year, she brought that same cross-examination expertise to the presidential debate stage.

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But she especially needs no introduction to the Bay Area, where she was born, grew up and started her career. Here's how the Bay Area has influenced Harris, from kindergarten in Berkeley to listening to Too $hort.

Where did Kamala Harris grow up?

Harris was born in 1964 at a Kaiser hospital in Oakland and grew up in the East Bay. As an elementary school student, she was part of the second class of students to desegregate Berkeley schools. The school she attended was Thousand Oaks Elementary near Solano Avenue, according to Cal Matters.

"There was a little girl in California who was part of the second class to integrate her public schools, and she was bused to school every day, and that little girl was me," Harris said in a presidential debate last year. She was arguing with then-opponent Joe Biden over his record on busing programs.

Her mother was a cancer researcher at UC Berkeley and her father was a professor at Stanford. After her parents divorced when she was 12, Harris moved with her mother to Montreal. But she wouldn't stay away from the Bay Area for too long.

A Bay Area education - formal and otherwise

While Harris got her undergraduate degree outside of California, at Howard University in Washington, D.C., she returned to study law at UC Hastings in San Francisco.

But the Bay Area seems to have educated her in more ways than the traditional sense. She inadvertently outed herself as a fan of Oakland rapper Too $hort in an anecdote to the New York Times. She tells of a story when she overheard her colleagues judging suspects' gang affiliation by the kind of music they listened to. She confronted them about their bias, saying, "I still have a tape of that kind of music in my car."

According to SFGate, that was a Too $hort tape she was referring to.

Historic career in San Francisco

Harris first worked in the Alameda County District Attorney's office before crossing the bay again and becoming the San Francisco District Attorney in 2003.

Her election earned her lots of "firsts": first female district attorney of San Francisco, first Black woman elected as a DA in California and first Indian woman to hold the job in the country, says SFGate.

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The city's felony conviction rate was reportedly its highest in a decade during her time as DA.

She served two terms as DA before being elected attorney general of California from 2011 to 2017. She then went to Washington to represent California in the U.S. Senate.
Harris announced her run for president in July 2018 outside Oakland's city hall.

More Bay Area ties

Harris dated former San Francisco Mayor Willie Brown for two years in the '90s, which landed her in Herb Caen's Chronicle column more than once. The relationship has been leveraged against her in sexist attacks by detractors.

She also said she likes to read recipes, like those of famed chef Alice Waters (of Berkeley's Chez Panisse), to help her relax, according to SFGate.

Her career - in San Francisco and beyond - hasn't been free of controversy. Read more about her politics here.
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