Kamala Devi Harris was born to an Indian mother and a Jamaican father in Oakland, California on October 20, 1964. She is, in part, a descendant of a Jamaican slave owner, as Harris’s father, Donald J. Harris, explained in a January 2019 essay which he wrote about his family’s heritage: “My roots go back, within my lifetime, to my paternal …
Kamala Devi Harris was born to an Indian mother and a Jamaican father in Oakland, California on October 20, 1964. She is, in part, a descendant of a Jamaican slave owner, as Harris’s father, Donald J. Harris, explained in a January 2019 essay which he wrote about his family’s heritage:
“My roots go back, within my lifetime, to my paternal grandmother Miss Chrishy (née Christiana Brown, descendant of Hamilton Brown who is on record as plantation and slave owner and founder of Brown’s Town) and to my maternal grandmother Miss Iris (née Iris Finegan, farmer and educator, from Aenon Town and Inverness, ancestry unknown to me). The Harris name comes from my paternal grandfather Joseph Alexander Harris, land-owner and agricultural ‘produce’ exporter (mostly pimento or all-spice), who died in 1939 one year after I was born and is buried in the church yard of the magnificent Anglican Church which Hamilton Brown built in Brown’s Town (and where, as a child, I learned the catechism, was baptized and confirmed, and served as an acolyte).”
Kamala Devi Harris earned a B.A. from Howard University in 1986 and a JD from the UC Hastings College of Law in 1989. She subsequently served as: Deputy District Attorney for Alameda County from 1990-98; managing attorney of the Career Criminal Unit of the San Francisco District Attorney’s Office from 1998-2000; head of the San Francisco City Attorney’s Division on Families and Children from 2000-03; San Francisco’s District Attorney from 2004-11; and Attorney General of California from 2011-16.
A few days after San Francisco police officer Isaac Espinoza was shot and killed by a gang member in 2004, District Attorney Harris – who had campaigned for that office on a pledge that she would never pursue capital punishment for any criminal, because she considered it unjust and immoral – announced that she would not seek a death sentence for Officer Espinoza’s killer.
In 2008, Harris was disturbed when California voters approved Proposition 8, a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage in that state. In December 2010, as she prepared to commence her tenure as California Attorney General, Harris announced that her AG office – in a departure from the custom whereby AGs traditionally defend state laws – would not defend Proposition 8 before the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals. “It’s well within the authority vested in me as the elected attorney general to use the discretion of my office to make decisions about how we will use our resources and what issue we will weigh in on or not,” Harris said. When Proposition 8 eventually went before the U.S. Supreme Court in 2013, Harris stated: “I declined to defend Proposition 8 because it violates the Constitution. The Supreme Court has described marriage as a fundamental right 14 times since 1888. The time has come for this right to be afforded to every citizen.” When the Supreme Court decided in June 2015 to legalize same-sex marriage nationwide, Harris called it an “incredible day in history.” “California is validated. We are validated,” she said during a news conference in Sacramento. “Each day that one of those couples have to go without being able to have their marriage and their love legally recognized,” Harris added, “… is one day too long.” Harris also directed a message to Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, who dissented from the decision and depicted California as a cultural outlier. “Don’t hate the playa, hate the game,” said Harris.
In 2011, pro-Israel legal experts affiliated with the AMCHA Initiative, the Israel Law Center, and the Global Frontier Justice Center petitioned then-Attorney General Harris to sue David Klein, a California State University at Northridge (CSUN) mathematics professor who was a member of the U.S. Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel, and who served as the faculty adviser to CSUN’s chapter of Students for Justice in Palestine. Specifically, the three pro-Israel groups charged that Klein was using his publicly funded, university-provided website to promote the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement, a pro-Hamas initiative, in violation of laws prohibiting taxpayer dollars from being used to finance non-business-related endeavors. But Harris rejected all efforts to persuade her to bring charges against Klein. When the pro-Israel groups tried again, in 2012, to push Harris to take action against the professor, Harris said there was insufficient evidence upon which to base a lawsuit. AMCHA co-founder and director Tammi Benjamin described Harris’s response to AMCHA’s overtures as “very curt and short.”
On December 4, 2012, Attorney General Harris issued a memo informing all the executives of California’s state and local law-enforcement agencies that they could “make their own decisions about whether to fulfill” Immigration & Customs Enforcement detainers – i.e., temporary holds that federal immigration authorities may place on municipal prisoners who are suspected of being eligible for deportation.
Harris again demonstrated her low regard for immigration law after an illegal alien named Juan Francisco Lopez-Sanchez – a convicted felon who had been previously deported from the United States on five separate occasions – was released from a San Francisco prison in April 2015 and subsequently murdered an innocent young woman named Kathryn Steinle. Harris said she supported Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi’s decision – which was made in accordance with the city’s sanctuary policies – to set Lopez-Sanchez free rather than turn him over to immigration authorities. “I trust and believe in the ability of local sheriffs to make a decision about what’s in the best interest of his or her community in terms of local safety,” said Harris.
In September 2015, Harris spoke out in support of the nuclear deal that the Obama administration and the leaders of five additional nations had negotiated with the government of Iran. While acknowledging that “this is by no means a perfect compromise,” Harris called it “the best available option for blocking Iran from developing nuclear weapons capability and to avoid potentially disastrous military conflict in the Middle East.”
In 2015 as well, Harris launched an investigation of journalist/anti-abortion activist David Daleiden, who had recently made headlines by releasing undercover videos demonstrating that Planned Parenthood routinely violated federal law by collecting and selling fetal tissue and body parts. As National Review reports: “The basis for investigating Daleiden was his appearing to have used a fake California driver’s license to hide his identity from Planned Parenthood, and the suspicion that he violated Planned Parenthood’s privacy. Those trivial allegations were enough for Harris to have eleven police officers raid Daleiden’s house, confiscate his computers and hard drives, some private documents, and all the yet-unreleased Planned Parenthood footage Daleiden had shot over two years. When Daleiden called his lawyer, Harris’s raiders tried to confiscate his phone too.”
The following year, when Harris, a Democrat, ran for the U.S. Senate seat that was being vacated by the retiring Barbara Boxer, Harris’s campaign website featured a petition to “protect” Planned Parenthood and “the important work it does.” Over the course of the 2016 election cycle, Planned Parenthood and its affiliates and employees contributed at least $30,000 to the Harris campaign. Other pro-abortion groups and their affiliates donated at least $50,000 more.
In 2016 as well, Harris was one of 17 Attorneys General (16 Democrats and 1 Independent) who joined “AGs United for Clean Power” (AGUCP), a group launched by former Vice President Al Gore. AGUCP’s objective was to file criminal fraud charges against fossil-fuel companies (and their supporters) that failed to explicitly endorse the notion that greenhouse-gas emissions associated with human industrial activity are chiefly responsible for potentially catastrophic “climate change.” Harris and New York AG Eric Schneiderman, for instance, initiated separate investigations into ExxonMobil for allegedly funding research that questioned the veracity of anthropogenic climate-change orthodoxy — and for purportedly concealing the truth about climate change from their shareholders and the general public. That same year, Harris’s Senate campaign website vowed that Harris, if elected, would “stand up to the climate-change deniers and fight to pass national climate-change legislation that promotes innovation like establishing a carbon tax or creating a cap-and-trade market for carbon pollution.”
Also on her campaign website, Harris pledged to “make the minimum wage a living wage and tie it to inflation”; “support President Obama‘s “plan for making community colleges free”; support “expanding access to Head Start [and] Early Head Start, and creating national universal pre-kindergarten”; “make it a priority to pass the Paycheck Fairness Act,” legislation rooted in the premise that “women earn about 21 percent less than men”; strive to “en[d] [mass incarceration]” by “roll[ing] back draconian sentencing laws for nonviolent drug offenses”; “fight to end federal bans on student loans, food stamps, housing, and voting rights for ex-offenders”; “stop voter suppression” measures like Voter ID laws; and “expand early voting so everyone has ample opportunity to vote.” The website further stated that “everyone should have access to public education, public health, and public safety regardless of their immigration status”; that Harris would “fight for comprehensive immigration reform that creates a fair pathway to citizenship” for America’s “11 million undocumented immigrants”; that she would “protect President Obama’s immigration executive actions,” which shielded several million illegals from deportation; and that the U.S. had a duty to “responsibly resettle refugees” from war-torn, terrorism-infested nations around the world.
Harris defeated Orange County Rep. Loretta Sanchez by a margin of 23 percentage points in a June 2016 Democratic primary race, and subsequently became a U.S. Senator when she ran unopposed by any Republican in the November general election.
Over the years, Harris has cultivated a close political and ideological kinship with California Congresswoman Maxine Waters, whose federal campaign committee, Citizens for Waters (CfW), since 2006 has accepted fees from political candidates wishing to be featured in CfW mailers and to gain Waters’ endorsement. In 2010, Harris paid $28,000 to Waters’ campaign committee in order to appear on the CfW mailers during her bid for the post of California Attorney General. And when Harris ran for the U.S. Senate in 2016, she gave CfW another $30,000 in order to appear on the mailers.
In a series of tweets which she posted on January 27, 2017 — International Holocaust Memorial Day — Harris compared Jews escaping Nazi genocide during the Third Reich, to modern-day Muslims from terrorism-connected countries in the Middle East seeking refuge in the United States. She also used the occasion to condemn President Donald Trump’s then-recent executive order declaring a temporary moratorium on travel to the U.S. by people from a small handful of such terror-tied nations — nations whose residents’ ability to enter the United States had likewise been subjected to restrictions by Trump’s predecessor, Barack Obama. Tweeted Harris:
- “On #HolocaustMemorialDay, Trump restricted refugees from Muslim-majority countries. Make no mistake — this is a Muslim ban.”
- “We can’t turn our backs on the millions of refugees who are contributing to our country and our economy.”
- “During the Holocaust, we failed to let refugees like Anne Frank into our country. We can’t let history repeat itself.”
When President Donald Trump nominated Judge Neil Gorsuch to the U.S. Supreme Court in March 2017, Harris tweet: “Judge Gorsuch has consistently valued legalisms over real lives. I won’t support his nomination.” As the American Thinker pointed out: “'[L]egalisms’ (aka what the law actually says) are the very basis of the rule of law. When [Harris] touts ‘real lives,’ [and] not the law, as the proper basis for SCOTUS rulings, she openly endorses a political system based on favoritism, not the rule of law.”
When President Trump in June 2017 announced his intention to withdraw the U.S. from the Paris Climate Agreement, Harris said that Trump’s “disastrous decision” would have “catastrophic repercussions for our planet’s future,” and would “threate[n] the world our children and children’s children will live in.”
At a Netroots Nation conference in August 2018, Harris charged that critics of “identity politics” were employing that term to disparage the notion that issues of race, gender and sexual orientation were worthy of public concern. “I have a problem, guys, with that phrase, ‘identity politics,’” said the senator. “Because let’s be clear, when people say that, it’s a pejorative. That phrase is used to divide, and it is used to distract. Its purpose is to minimize and marginalize issues that impact all of us. It is used to try and shut us up…. These issues that they’re trying to diminish and demean are the very issues that will define our identity as Americans.” “We’ve all heard how critical black women were to Doug Jones’ victory,” Harris said of the Democrat who had won a 2017 special election to determine who would fill the U.S. Senate seat recently vacated by Jeff Sessions (R-Alabama). “But that didn’t just magically happen. It happened because black women have been putting in the work, going door to door, organizing even when the cameras were focused elsewhere.”
On October 29, 2018, the Foundation for Accountability and Civic Trust (FACT), a non-partisan ethics watchdog group, filed a complaint with the Senate Select Committee on Ethics against Senator Harris and Senator Elizabeth Warren. Said the FACT complaint: “Senators Warren and Harris both sent campaign fundraising emails before the Senate vote on Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh. Specifically, the campaign emails both stated Senators Warren and Harris’s official role and positions on the ongoing confirmation hearing and then made direct requests for campaign donations with ‘DONATE NOW’ and ‘CONTRIBUTE’ buttons. Senate ethics laws prohibit candidates from using the promise of official action or legislative work in a direct ask for campaign cash.” “This is a clear violation of the Senate Ethics rules which safeguard against the appearance or actuality of elected officials ‘cashing in’ on their official position for political purposes,” said FACT executive director Kendra Arnold.
In November 2018, Harris asked Ronald Vitiello, whom President Trump had nominated to head the the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency, if he believed that the public’s perception of ICE was creating fear and distrust in a manner similar to how the KKK had done in the 20th century. “Are you aware of the perception of many about how the power and the discretion at ICE is being used to enforce the laws and do you see any parallels …?” asked Harris. At that point, Vitiello interjected: “I do not see any parallels. That puts ICE in the same category as the KKK….” A moment later, Harris asked: “Are you aware that there is a perception that ICE is administering its power in a way that is causing fear and intimidation, particularly among immigrants and specifically among immigrants coming from Mexico and Central America?”
In December 2018, Harris joined fellow Senator Mazie Hirono in challenging President Trump’s nomination of Brian Buescher to the U.S. District Court for Nebraska because the judge belonged to the Knights Of Columbus (KOC), the world’s largest Catholic fraternal organization, which the two lawmakers characterized as an “extreme” entity. The senators’ bone of contention was the fact that KOC affirms traditional Catholic teaching on issues such as marriage, sexuality, and abortion. Both senators pressured Buescher to resign from KOC. In a Senate hearing, Harris asked the nominee: “Were you aware that the Knights of Columbus opposed a woman’s right to choose when you joined the organization?”
On January 21, 2018, Harris announced that she was launching a campaign for the presidential election of 2020. Six days later, she kicked off her campaign with a speech before thousands of supporters in Oakland, California. Early in her talk, Harris asserted that: (a) “our criminal justice system [is] deeply flawed” and needs to become “more fair”; (b) “middle class families … had been defrauded” by “wealthy bankers” whose “arrogance of power” enabled them to “accus[e] innocent homeowners of fault, as if Wall Street’s mess was of the people’s making”; (c) President Trump’s proposed border wall was nothing more than a “medieval vanity project” that would do nothing to protect Americans; and (d) “our Dreamers [illegal aliens who first arrived in the U.S. as minors] … came by the thousands … because they believe in our democracy and the only country they’ve ever known as home.”
As she continued her speech, Harris recited a series of declarations purporting to describe how the policies of the Trump administration were ruining the United States. Some excerpts:
- “When we have leaders who lie and bully and attack a free press and undermine our democratic institutions, that’s not our America.”
- “When white supremacists march and murder in Charlottesville or massacre innocent worshipers at a Pittsburgh synagogue, that’s not our America.”
- “When we have children in cages crying for their mothers and fathers, don’t you dare call it border security, that’s a human rights abuse and that’s not our America.”
- “When we have leaders who attack public schools and vilify public school teachers, that’s not our America.”
- “When bankers who crashed our economy get bonuses but workers who brought our country back can’t even get a raise, that’s not our America.”
- “And when American families are barely living paycheck to paycheck, what is this administration’s response? Their response is to try to take away health care from millions of families. Their response is to give away a trillion dollars to the biggest corporations in this country. And their response is to blame immigrants as the source of all our problems.”
Harris subsequently enumerated a series of uncomfortable “truths” about American life. Among them were the following:
- “Women are paid on average 80 cents on the dollar. Black women, 63 cents. Latinas, 53 cents.”
- “Big pharmaceutical companies have unleashed an opioid crisis from the California coast to the mountains of West Virginia.”
- “Climate change is real and it is happening now. From wildfires In the west to hurricanes in the east, to floods and droughts in the heartland, we’re not gonna buy the lie. We’re gonna act, based on science fact, not science fiction.”
- “Racism, sexism, anti-Semitism, homophobia, transphobia are real in this country. They are age-old forms of hate with new fuel. And we need to speak that truth so we can deal with it.”
- “[T]oo many unarmed black men and women are killed in America. Too many black and brown Americans are locked up. From mass incarceration to cash bail to policing, our criminal justice system needs drastic repair.”
After laying out her description of a nation where racism, sexism, anti-Semitism, homophobia, and all manner of hatred and intolerance were ubiquitous, Harris proceeded to condemn the “powerful forces trying to sow hate and division among us.” After that, she laid out the top agenda items of her campaign. Among the most noteworthy:
- “I am running to declare, once and for all, that health care is a fundamental right, and we will deliver that right with Medicare for All!”
- “I am running to declare education is a fundamental right, and we will guarantee that right with universal pre-k and debt free college!”
- “I’m running to fight for an America where no mother or father has to teach their young son that people may stop him, arrest him, chase him, or kill him, because of his race.”
- “An America where we welcome refugees and bring people out of the shadows, and provide a pathway to citizenship.”
- “An America where our daughters, where our sisters, where our mothers and grandmothers are respected where they live and where they work. Where reproductive rights are not just protected by the Constitution of the United States but guaranteed in every state.”
On January 29, 2019, Harris reacted with instant, horrified outrage when media outlets nationwide reported that “Empire” television actor Jussie Smollett, an openly gay African American, was claiming that he had just been victimized by a hate crime perpetrated by two white men who had assaulted him, poured bleach on him, draped a rope around his neck, and shouted “This is MAGA country,” along with a variety of anti-black and anti-gay slurs. Upon hearing this story, Harris tweeted: “@JussieSmollett is one of the kindest, most gentle human beings I know. I’m praying for his quick recovery. This was an attempted modern day lynching. No one should have to fear for their life because of their sexuality or color of their skin. We must confront this hate.”
On February 14, 2019, Harris and fellow Senators Cory Booker and Tim Scott (a black Republican) asked for unanimous consent on the Senate floor to pass the Justice for Victims of Lynching Act, legislation that would criminalize lynching for the first time in U.S. history. The motion was passed.
Less than three weeks after Smollett had first reported the alleged attack against him, it was clear that the actor’s tale was a fabrication, and that he himself had orchestrated the entire incident in order to gain publicity and to discredit President Trump and his supporters. When a reporter asked Harris to comment on the matter on February 18, she replied: “Okay, so I will say this about that case. I think the facts are still unfolding and I’m very concerned about obviously, the initial, um, allegation that he made about what might have happened. And it’s something we should all take seriously whenever anyone, um, alleges that kind of behavior, but there should be an investigation. And I think that once the investigation has concluded then we can all comment, but I’m not going to comment until I know the outcome of the investigation.”
On February 21, Smollett was charged with a felony for having filed a false police report. That day, Harris tweeted: “Like most of you, I’ve seen the reports about Jussie Smollett, and I’m sad, frustrated and disappointed. When anyone makes false claims to police, it not only diverts resources away from serious investigations but it makes it more difficult for other victims of crime to come forward. At the same time, hate crimes are on the rise in America…. Part of the tragedy of this situation is that it distracts from that truth, and has been seized by some who would like to dismiss and downplay the very real problems that we must address. We should not allow that. I will always condemn racism and homophobia. We must always confront hate directly, and we must always seek justice. That is what I will keep fighting for.”
In a February 11, 2019 interview on “The Breakfast Club,” a New York City-based radio program, Harris was asked to comment on rumors that she opposed the legalization of marijuana. “That’s not true, she replied, laughing. “Look, I joke about it, I have joked about it. Half my family is from Jamaica, are you kidding me?” Harris, who acknowledged having smoked marijuana in college, was also asked whether she would smoke it again if the federal government were to legalize the drug’s recreational use. She laughed and replied: “Listen, I think it gives a lot of people joy. And we need more joy.” Harris was also asked, “What [music] was you listening to when you was high? What was on? What song was on?” The senator quickly responded, “Definitely Snoop, Tupac for sure.” Fox News subsequently reported that Harris was either not accurately identifying: (a) what music she had been listening to, or (b) what year she had smoked marijuana:
“Harris graduated from Howard University in 1986 and was finished with law school by 1989. She was admitted to the State Bar of California in 1990. Snoop Dogg’s debut album ‘Doggystyle’ was released in 1993. Snoop made music prior to his first album … [in 1992, but that was] … years after Harris finished school. As for Tupac, his first album ‘2Pacalypse Now’ was released in 1991. The rap legend also recorded music as part of the group Digital Underground, but it was also released in the early 1990s after Harris finished school.”
In the aftermath of Harris’s interview, her father, Stanford University economics professor Donald Harris, said in a statement to Jamaica Global Online: “My dear departed grandmothers … as well as my deceased parents, must be turning in their grave right now to see their family’s name, reputation and proud Jamaican identity being connected, in any way, jokingly or not with the fraudulent stereotype of a pot-smoking joy seeker and in the pursuit of identity politics. Speaking for myself and my immediate Jamaican family, we wish to categorically dissociate ourselves from this travesty.”
At a February 2019 campaign stop in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, Harris said she was in favor of doing away with Columbus Day and replacing it with Indigenous People’s Day. She told the crowd that “we are the scene of a crime when it comes to what we did with slavery and Jim Crow and institutionalized racism in this country, and we have to be honest about that.”
During the February 24, 2019 airing of MSNBC’s AM Joy, host Joy Reid asked Harris if, during her presidential campaign, it “would it be difficult for you to advocate race-based policy.” In her response, Harris said:
“I want to talk about the issue of identity politics, Joy. This term identity politics, people will use that term — it’s like people used to talk about the race card. They bring this term up when you talk about issues that are about race, about sexual orientation, about religion. They’ll bring it up when we are talking about civil rights issues as a way to marginalize the issue, as a way to frankly try to silence you or shut you up. We need to call it what it is, which is to try and divert away from a conversation that needs to happen in America. Why? One, because we must speak truth. Racism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia, anti-Semitism are all real in this country, so we need to have that conversation and address it. Two, and this is equally important, how America deals with the issues and the disparities, and also the hate that can be — that causes these issues to become lethal in proportion — how America deals with these issues is a matter of American identity. This is not about identity politics, and if it is, it’s about the identity of the United States of America. How we handle the issues will be about our collective identity.”
For an overview of Harris’s voting record on a variety of key issues, click here.
For additional information on Kamala Harris, click here.
 As the Heritage Foundation explains: “Government prosecutors and the other participants in the crusade against ExxonMobil and the think tanks, researchers, scientists, and policy makers in the climate change debate argue the First Amendment does not protect the supposedly fraudulent conduct of those who ‘deny’ that catastrophic climate change is occurring and that man is the chief culprit for this problem.”
 In April 2017, Harris tweeted that “an undocumented immigrant is not a criminal.”
 As columnist Kevin D. Williamson noted in the New York Post: “[T]he Constitution explicitly forbids imposing any religious test for public office, which is what Sens. Harris and Hirono here propose to do for the federal judiciary. The second and related issue is that it is not the Knights of Columbus that opposes abortion and same-sex marriage, but the Catholic Church. If a KOC member is ineligible to serve on the federal bench because of the beliefs of that organization, then every Catholic in the United States — and the world, for that matter, all 1.2 billion of them — is ineligible for similar office, since they belong to a much larger and much more prominent organization that is the source of those ‘extreme positions’.”