As Kamala Devi Harris took oath as Vice President of the United States on Wednesday, history was made. Her inauguration, alongside President Joe Biden, makes her the first-ever woman and first Black and Indian-American person to take this office, which is among the highest in the country. Their tenure commenced following a swearing-in ceremony held at the US Capitol in Washington DC on the noon of January 20.
56-year-old Harris’ election to the role is being hailed as a momentous occasion. Donning a purple dress, coat, and her now trademark string of pearls around her neck, Harris took oath from the Capitol amid tight security. Reports suggest her attire is designed by two Black designers and is in one of the two colours (the other being yellow) from her campaign trail.
The Biden-Harris administration succeeds former incumbent President Donald Trump and former Vice President Mike Pence’s four-year tenure, after defeating them at the 2020 US Election. Trump, true to the promise he made in the aftermath of the Capitol siege of not attending the inauguration, skipped the event.
Kamala Harris’ Ancestral Village Cheers Her On
Harris, who traces her maternal ancestry to Chennai, Tamil Nadu, is being celebrated in southern India upon her inauguration as VP. The village of Thulasenthirapuram in Nagapattinam, her grandfather’s hometown, had reportedly made grand preparations of putting posters, cleaning the area, and cooking traditional treats ahead of her swearing-in. “She inspires all the women in the village,” a local was quoted saying.
Last year, Gopalan Balachandran, Harris’ maternal uncle, had said he would join her in the US for her inauguration. Though recent reports suggest Delhi-based Balachandran did not attend, he did offer Harris advice, saying, “Do whatever Shyamala taught you. You’ve been doing fine so far, keep it up.”
Kamala Harris: A Look At Her Journey
Kamala Devi Harris, an American lawyer and former California Senator, prior to being named as a running mate to Biden in 2020, was part of the presidential candidature race from the Democratic party. In 2019, however, stating financial instability, she bowed out. In August last year, she took stage as the vice-presidential candidate alongside Biden.
Upon her historic 2020 election win, Harris was hailed as a woman of many firsts, most notably as the first woman and person of colour on the Vice Presidential seat in the country’s history. She extended the courtesy even to her husband Doug Emhoff, who is now the US’ first-ever Second Gentleman.
She boasts of a multi-cultural upbringing, having been born in the US to a mother from India and a father from Jamaica. Shyamala Gopalan Harris, a breast cancer researcher, raised her two daughters – Kamala and Maya – as a single mother after separating from her husband Donald Harris.
Hailing from Chennai, where the Vice President’s maternal family is still based, Shyamala Gopalan gave her daughters an upbringing instilled – in Harris’ own words – with “pride in our South Asian roots… we were raised with a strong awareness of and appreciation for Indian culture.” Harris has, in the past, referred to her maternal grandfather PV Gopalan as “one of my favourite people in my world.”
Ahead of her inauguration ceremony, Harris had tweeted in gratitude of the “women who came before” her, including her mother, who helped her achieve the feat she did today. See her tweet below:
I’m here today because of the women who came before me. pic.twitter.com/ctB9qGJqqp— Kamala Harris (@KamalaHarris) January 20, 2021