Indian-origin Senator Kamala Devi Harris created history when she became the first Black woman to be appointed as running mate by Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden in the November presidential elections.
Biden on Tuesday picked Harris as his running mate, recognizing the crucial role Black voters could play in his determined bid to defeat President Donald Trump in the US presidential election.
As scores of media outlets and social media enthusiasts dug into Harris’ past, the piece of information that stood out the most was her affair at 29 with San Francisco Mayor Willie Brown, who was then 60. The couple met in 1994.
According to reports, Brown was still married to his wife Blanche Vitero, despite the fact that they were separated since 1982. Harris broke up with Brown in 1995 after he was elected as mayor, but the duo remained as political allies.
When Brown got to know Harris was running for president in 2019, he wrote a column in the San Francisco Chronicle stating, “Yes, we dated. It was more than 20 years ago. Yes, I may have influenced her career by appointing her to a two-state commission when I was Assembly speaker.”
Brown was the speaker of the California State Assembly for 15 years. It was during the same period during which, he appointed Harris to the Unemployment Insurance Appeals Board and the California Medical Assistance Commission.
“The difference is that Harris is the only one who, after I helped her, sent word that I would be indicted if I ‘so much as jaywalked’ while she was D.A.,” Brown wrote. “That’s politics for ya.”
On the contrary, Harris called Brown an “albatross hanging around my neck”. She told SF Weekly in 2003, “His career is over. I will be alive and kicking for the next 40 years. I do not owe him a thing.”
Fast forward to 2020, a 55-year-old California senator becomes just the third woman to be selected as the vice president on a major party ticket. Then-Alaska Governor Sarah Palin in 2008 and New York Representative Geraldine Ferraro in 1984 were the other two.
A fierce critic-turned ally of her former rival Biden, Harris had her own presidential dreams, which she suspended by the end of 2019, saying she lacked the financial resources to continue her campaign. She is one of only three Asian Americans in the Senate and she’s the first Indian-American ever to serve in the chamber.
Brown in an interview with ABC7 News said, “Kamala Harris is such an impressive person on the podium. Biden should let her do her thing. It would be like someone trying to control Tiger Woods at his zenith.”
“I give her an A+,” he added.
Brown also told Fox Business that Harris would be side-tracked as a ‘second banana’. He said, “So I was fearful that a talented person like Kamala Harris, who has the potential to be president of this nation — if she ever got side-tracked by being the second banana to a president, she may not be able to demonstrate those skills. And that’s what I was concerned about.”
Harris is known for many firsts. She has been a county district attorney; the district attorney for San Francisco – the first woman and first African-American and Indian-origin to be elected to the position.
She would have several firsts in her role as vice president also: the first woman, the first African-American woman, the first Indian-American, and the first Asian-American.
Harris was born to two immigrant parents: a Black father and an Indian mother. Her father, Donald Harris, was from Jamaica, and her mother, Shyamala Gopalan, a cancer researcher, and civil rights activist from Chennai. She, however, defines herself simply as ‘American’.
Source: Free Press Journal