During the Democratic presidential debates, Sen. Kamala Harris challenged Joe Biden because he worked with Southern senators to oppose busing in the 1960s that affected a little girl she knew “and that little girl was me.”
But a year after that icy moment. Biden is seriously considering selecting Harris to be his running mate. When a reporter asked Harris if she would accept, she said, “I want Joe Biden to win. I want him to pick whoever will help him to win.”
Born in Oakland, Harris, 64, has rarely backed away from a fight or tough moments. The daughter of an African-American father who taught at Stanford University and an Indian mother who was a physician, many political observers say Harris is what Biden needs to take on President Donald Trump.
In 1982, Harris was admitted to Howard and elected to serve as “freshman class representative,” on the school’s Liberal Arts Student Council, marking the beginning of her political journey.
“Howard University is one of the most important aspects of my life,” said Harris during a speech at Howard shortly after entering the Presidential race last year.
After graduating from Howard with a degree in Political Science and Economics, Harris was admitted to the United of California Hastings College of Law that would launch her career in San Francisco’s district attorney’s office. There, she prosecuted those accused of murder, robbery and child rape – providing the exposure and experience that would lead to her becoming attorney general in California and then to the United States Senate.
Harris had a reputation and a record of going after people and getting them convicted. She was named one of California’s top 75 women litigators. She was named as a “Woman of Power” by the National Urban League. She was awarded the Thurgood Marshall Award by National Black Prosecutors Association.
And while some critics charge that Harris was too tough on crime, Dr. Alvin Thornton, a retired Howard University political science professor, says Harris came from a generation of lawmakers who represented communities who had a mandate to get tough on crime.
“Most Black mayors supported the crime bill and being a prosecutor is complicated in terms of protest taking place across the country against police brutality,” Thornton said. “You have an African-American female U.S. Senator from the most important state in America. That is a major thing. It is a mistake to reduce her to a possible Vice Presidential candidate.
Some analysts say Biden’s choice is coming down to Harris and Sen. Elizabeth Warren. In a CBS poll, which was released in May, Warren received 72 percent of those polled while Harris got 60 percent.
In recent weeks, Harris and Biden held a joint campaign appearance and while there were plenty of smiles, Thornton questions whether being Biden’s running mate is her best political move.
“If I had my choice I would want her to remain a senator from California,” Thornton said. “As a Howard graduate she comes in the tradition of Charles Hamilton Houston, Vince Brown, Ralph Bunche and Emmitt Dorsey,” he said, adding that at this time she’s most needed in the Senate but could prove to be an effective U.S. attorney general should Biden win the White House.