Who is Kamala Harris – the US’ first black second lady?

Photo by: Biden For President | CreativeCommons

A profile of Kamala Harris and the man by her side, Doug Emhoff, who is giving up his career to help out his wife, in an unprecedented move into the White House.

Kamala Harris recently became the first woman of colour to be nominated as vice president of the United States. Inspired by her mother, who was an Indian-American immigrant and activist, Harris studied law at the historically black, and private Howard University in Washington, DC, aiming to fight injustice. 

Later, Mrs. Harris worked as District Attorney of San Francisco, where she created a program that helped first-time drug offenders continue their education and find employment. After being sworn in as Senator for California in 2017 in another unprecedented event, Harris helped enforce environmental and equality issues, such as marriage equality for all Californians.  In and out of California, she is seen as a fighter for people of all communities. 

Kamala, who was originally in the race to become president but dropped out because of some controversy in her rulings in California, is now the first black, female vice president-elect the country has ever seen. With that comes power and responsibility, but with that also comes, her husband. 

Doug Emhoff is about to become second gentleman, and the first Jewish spouse of a president/ vice president ever. The 56-year-old plans to quit his law firm to support his wife, just like first lady Dr. Jill Biden, who knows the drill. She is going to keep teaching at Northern Virginia Community College, as she did in her second lady days. Emhoff will leave his private law practice by inauguration day.

There is undeniable symbolism in the man stepping down to support his wife’s extraordinary career. Being a high-profile entertainment lawyer and prominent liaison to Jewish groups and donors, Emhoff was also an efficient campaigner, travelling the country when Harris was working on her bid to become president. He would report back to his wife from the people and the towns he visited, claiming the trip really opened his eyes.

The two reportedly met on a blind date in 2013, and got engaged two years later – Harris became a mother to her step-children and Emhoff became a ‘political spouse’, in his own words. 

International news outlets have labelled the vice-presidential relationship as 2020’s Brad and Jen, with the significance of their marriage not only being revolutionary politically, but also an inspirational statement to women all over the country. 

Photo by: Gage Skidmore | CreativeCommons

It is debatable, however, that the media would have written as many columns about a second lady as they have about Doug Emhoff. Who can remember the last time they read something about former second lady Mrs. Pence? Even Michelle Obama only reached her highest levels of popularity at the end of Obama’s term. 

It will certainly be interesting to see a different distribution of power in the White House, and to see what the first ever second gentleman will get up to.

Words: Monika Groening | Subbing: Anuj Datta

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