Kamala’s mother, Shyamala Gopalan, was originally from Chennai in Tamil Nadu.

Kamala Harris wears a blue suit and smiles for the crowd
news US Elections Saturday, November 07, 2020 - 22:21

After a marathon ballot count that has stretched over four days, the United States of America elected Democratic nominees Joe Biden and Kamala Harris to the White House, making Kamala the first woman vice-president in US history. She is also the third woman on a major party ticket for the Vice-Presidency and the fourth woman in history. It was in August 2020 that Kamala Devi Harris, a Senator from California, was named the Vice-Presidential nominee to run alongside former Vice-President Joe Biden. 

Born to Donald Harris, an immigrant from Jamaica and former professor of Economics at Stanford University, and Shyamala Gopalan, a cancer researcher and civil rights activist who moved to the United States from Chennai, Kamala initially lived in Berkeley, California with her sister Maya, before moving to Canada after their parents' divorced when Kamala was seven.

Kamala later attended Howard University, a historically Black college in Washington D.C. Shyamala passed away in 2009 due to colon cancer. On many occasions, Harris has reiterated the powerful influence her mother had on the lives of her and her sister. She has said that after her parent’s divorce, she was primarily raised by her mother. “My mother understood very well that she was raising two Black daughters,” she wrote in her autobiography The Truths We Hold. “She knew that her adopted homeland would see Maya and me as Black girls and she was determined to make sure we would grow into confident, proud Black women.”

Kamala Harris had also expressed a love for south Indian food, including idli and sambar. In 2019, a video of her and comedian Mindy Kaling making masala dosas went viral while Kamala was running for the Presidential nomination. In an interview, Kamala had also said that her sister and she used to visit India once every few years and had her vivid memories of the time spent with her grandfather, PV Gopalan, walking on the beach. 

“One of the most influential people in my life, in addition to my mother, was my grandfather PV Gopalan, who actually held a post in India that was like the Secretary of State position in this country. My grandfather was one of the original Independence fighters in India, and some of my fondest memories from childhood were walking along the beach with him after he returned and lived in Besant Nagar,” she said in an interview.  

Recently, people in Thulasenthirapuram, a small village near Mannarkudi in Tamil Nadu’s Thiruvarur district, conducted special poojas for Kamala’s victory in the US elections. Kamala’s maternal family hails from the village, and immediately after her nomination for the vice-presidency was announced, several posters wishing her luck and expressing pride in her accomplishments sprung up around the area.  

Biden and Harris secured 273 electoral votes after a key victory in Pennsylvania, which vaulted them over the finish line.

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