At this point, Kamala Harris is used to making history. Nevertheless, it was an extraordinary moment when she was sworn in as Vice President of the United States on Jan. 20, becoming the first woman, the first Black person, the first Indian American, South Asian, and Asian American person to take that oath of office. She was joined by Joe Biden, who was sworn in as the 46th president of the United States.
Harris was sworn in by another trailblazer, Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor, the first Latina to join the bench. She also took the oath of office on a significant pair of Bibles: one belonged to Regina Shelton, Harris’s neighbor growing up, whom she considers a “second mother,” and the other belonged to Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall, one of Harris’s heroes and the first Black person to serve on the court. During the ceremony, Harris was joined by her husband Douglas Emhoff, who will now become the first Second Gentleman of the United States.
After the inauguration, themed “America United,” Harris, Emhoff, and the Bidens will be joined by every other living president (with the exception of Donald Trump and 96-year-old Jimmy Carter) to lay a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at Arlington National Ceremony. Those in attendance will include former Presidents Barack Obama, George W. Bush, and Bill Clinton, as well as former First Ladies Michelle Obama, Laura Bush, and Hillary Clinton. There will also be a virtual “Parade Across America,” as well as a television special hosted by Tom Hanks titled Celebrating America later in the evening.
Harris’s path to the White House was paved with historic achievements. She was born in Oakland, CA to immigrant parents before graduating law school. Harris, 56, became deputy district attorney before serving as the district attorney of San Francisco. She then became the first Black person and the first woman to serve as California’s attorney general. In 2016, Harris was elected California’s first Black senator and the country’s first South Asian American senator.
Then, the now-Vice President launched her own bid for the presidency, which ended in December 2019. Harris’s exit from the race led to her being announced as Biden’s running mate back in August, the first Black woman and the first Asian American to be on a major-party ticket in United States history. For her first speech as Vice President-elect, Harris paid tribute to the suffragettes with an all-white suit and delivered the unforgettable line: “While I may be the first woman in this office, I will not be the last.”
Along with her powerhouse political career, Harris has charmed Americans for who she is off the campaign trail, whether it’s sharing her foolproof Thanksgiving turkey recipe, making her name as the Converse candidate, or being “Momala” to her stepchildren, Cole and Ella.
In her November 2020 cover story with ELLE, Harris reflected on when Trump won the election in 2016, the same year she won her seat in the Senate. “I had one way, in my mind, I thought the evening would go,” she said. “And then there was the way it turned out. And so by the time I took the stage, I had ripped up my notes, and all I had was [my godson] Alexander in my heart. And I took the podium and I said, ‘I intend to fight. I intend to fight.'”
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