Politics

Moments of Kamala Harris’s career captured in photos

Kamala D. Harris made history when she became the first woman of color to be on a major-party presidential ticket when Joe Biden selected her as his running mate.

Throughout her life, Harris has had her share of firsts.

Kamala Harris campaign/AP

Kamala Harris and her sister, Maya, far right, spend time with their cousins in Jamaica.

Courtesy of Kamala Harris/Courtesy of Kamala Harris

Courtesy of Kamala Harris/Courtesy of Kamala Harris

1982 | Kamala Harris with Gwen Whitfield at an anti-apartheid protest during her freshman year at Howard University in Washington.

AP

AP

Born to parents who immigrated to the United States from India and Jamaica, and a graduate of Howard University and the University of California’s Hastings College of the Law, Harris became the first Black woman to be elected district attorney in California in 2003.

AP

2003 | Harris, then a San Francisco district attorney candidate, serves Thanksgiving lunch at Glide Memorial United Methodist Church in San Francisco.

Jeff Chiu/AP

Jeff Chiu/AP

2004 | San Francisco District Attorney Kamala D. Harris.

Marcio Jose Sanchez/AP

Marcio Jose Sanchez/AP

2008 | Harris signs election papers to make a run for California attorney general.

Ben Margot/AP

Ben Margot/AP

In 2010, in a tight race against Republican Steve Cooley, she was elected California’s attorney general.

Ben Margot/AP

2010 | Harris gives her first news conference as California attorney general in Los Angeles.

Damian Dovarganes/AP

Damian Dovarganes/AP

2012 | President Barack Obama walks with Harris and California Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom after arriving at San Francisco International Airport.

Eric Risberg/AP

Eric Risberg/AP

2012 | California Gov. Jerry Brown is applauded as he signs into law the California Homeowner Bill of Rights. Harris is at his right.

Damian Dovarganes/AP

Damian Dovarganes/AP

2013 | California Highway Patrol Commissioner Joe Farrow and Harris place a wreath honoring officers killed in the line of duty at a memorial in Sacramento.

Rich Pedroncelli/AP

Rich Pedroncelli/AP

2013 | Harris officiates the wedding of Sandy Stier, second from right, and Kris Perry in San Francisco. Stier and Perry were the lead plaintiffs in the U.S. Supreme Court case that overturned the same-sex marriage ban in California.

Marcio Jose Sanchez/AP

Marcio Jose Sanchez/AP

Six years later, Harris ran for the U.S. Senate with the backing of President Barack Obama and Vice President Biden. Upon her victory, she became only the second Black woman and the first South Asian American to join the upper chamber.

Marcio Jose Sanchez/AP

2016 | Harris, a candidate for U.S. Senate, thanks supporters who worked a phone bank for her at the California Democratic Party headquarters on Election Day in Sacramento.

Rich Pedroncelli/AP

Rich Pedroncelli/AP

2017 | Biden ducks down so Harris’s family can be seen in a group photo during a mock swearing-in ceremony on Capitol Hill as the 115th Congress begins.

Alex Brandon/AP

Alex Brandon/AP

2017 | Harris waits in the elevator, along with fellow Sens. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) and Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.) on Capitol Hill.

Melina Mara/The Washington Post

Melina Mara/The Washington Post

2017 | Harris walks back to her office with communications director Lily Adams after casting a vote.

Melina Mara/The Washington Post

Melina Mara/The Washington Post

During her time in the Senate, Harris distinguished herself by applying her prosecutorial skills to grill Trump nominees, including Judge Brett M. Kavanaugh, during committee hearings.

Melina Mara/The Washington Post

2019 | Harris questions Attorney General William P. Barr as he testifies before the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Jahi Chikwendiu/The Washington Post

Jahi Chikwendiu/The Washington Post

2018 | Harris after voting during the Supreme Court nomination process for Brett M. Kavanaugh.

Bill O'Leary/The Washington Post

Bill O'Leary/The Washington Post

In 2019, Harris ran for president, embodying the party’s hopes as one of its best chances to beat President Trump — a rising female star with a multiracial background who could rebuild the coalition that propelled Obama.

Bill O'Leary/The Washington Post

2019 | Harris prepares to speak to supporters at a meet-and-greet campaign event in Columbia, S.C.

Melina Mara/The Washington Post

Melina Mara/The Washington Post

2019 | Harris shares a laugh as she flips pork chops and hamburgers at the Iowa State Fair.

Salwan Georges/The Washington Post

Salwan Georges/The Washington Post

During the first presidential debate, she clashed with Biden over his position on cross-district busing in the 1970s, telling him: “You also worked … to oppose busing. And, you know, 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.”

Salwan Georges/The Washington Post

2019 | Biden, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Harris (D-Calif.) during the Democratic presidential primary debate in Atlanta.

Toni L. Sandys/The Washington Post

Toni L. Sandys/The Washington Post

2019 | Harris speaks to journalists after the Democratic presidential debate in Atlanta.

Melina Mara/The Washington Post

Melina Mara/The Washington Post

While the televised confrontation made headlines for Harris, she was unable to maintain her candidacy and dropped out of the race in December 2019, two months before the first votes were cast.

Melina Mara/The Washington Post

But as Biden introduced Harris as his running mate, the primary was firmly in the past.

“This morning, all across this nation, little girls woke up, especially little Black and Brown girls who so often may feel overlooked and undervalued in our society,” Biden said. “But today, maybe, just maybe, they’re seeing themselves for the first time in a new way.”

Melina Mara/The Washington Post

2020 | Biden and his wife, Jill, appear with Harris and her husband, Douglas Emhoff, after a campaign event in Wilmington, Del.

Toni L. Sandys/The Washington Post

Toni L. Sandys/The Washington Post

Harris became the face of the Biden campaign’s outreach to Black Americans during the run-up to the general election. She made stops in many of the swing-state cities where Black turnout pushed the Democrats to victory in November, though the coronavirus pandemic limited the size of the events.

Toni L. Sandys/The Washington Post

2020 | Harris speaks to a socially distant crowd at the University of North Carolina in Asheville.

Charles Mostoller for The Washington Post

Charles Mostoller for The Washington Post

2020 | Harris makes a campaign stop at the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley in Edinburg, Tex.

Julia Robinson for The Washington Post

Julia Robinson for The Washington Post

When Biden declared victory on Nov. 10, Harris became the first vice president-elect in recent history to deliver a victory speech along with the president-elect.

In all white, a tribute to the suffragists who secured the vote for women just a century earlier, Harris acknowledged that she was doing something no one like her had ever done before.

Julia Robinson for The Washington Post

2020 | Harris greets supporters at the Chase Center in Wilmington, Del., in her first public appearance as vice president-elect.

Toni L. Sandys/The Washington Post

Toni L. Sandys/The Washington Post

“To the children of our country, regardless of your gender, our country has sent you a clear message: Dream with ambition, lead with conviction,” she said that night. “And see yourselves in a way that others may not simply because they’ve never seen it before, but know that we will applaud you every step of the way.”

Toni L. Sandys/The Washington Post