From Shyamala Gopalan to Kamala Devi Harris: A timeline of two audacious journeys

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New York–When Kamala Harris takes oath as America’s Vice President, it will be a moment without equal in the country’s history. Harris will be the first Indian and Black American, first woman and first woman of colour to ever win election to America’s highest political office.

Her journey was made possible by another audacious traveller – her mother Shyamala Gopalan, who arrived in America as a 19-year-old, in 1958. Below is a timeline that traces the two women’s paths — starting with Gopalan’s arrival in America — that finally culminated in Harris’ barrier-shattering triumph.

1958: Shyamala Gopalan wins the Hilgard scholarship to study at University of California, Berkeley.

1960: Shyamala Gopalan finishes her Masters degree at theA University of California, Berkeley.

1962: Shyamala Gopalan meets Donald Harris, her future husband, who was speaking at a meeting of the Afro American Association.

July 5, 1963: Shyamala Gopalan marries Donald Harris.

1964: Shyamala Gopalan earns a PhD in nutrition and endocrinology at UC Berkeley.

Oct 20, 1964: Kamala Harris is born at the Kaiser Foundation Hospital in Oakland, California.

1966: Shyamala Gopalan and Donald Harris move to Urbana Champaign. Donald Harris begins teaching economics at the University of Illinois.

1967: On January 30, Kamala Harris’ sister Maya is born.

1970: Shyamala Gopalan moves back from Illinois to Berkeley. The relationship between Gopalan and Donald Harris goes downhill.

1971: Shyamala Gopalan and Donald Harris divorce.

1976: Shyamala moves with her girls to Montreal, Canada. She begins teaching at McGill University and doing research at the Jewish General Hospital.

1981: Kamala Harris graduates from Westmount High School, Montreal.

1982: Kamala Harris joins Howard University, a famous historically Black university in Washington, D.C.

1986: Kamala Harris earns undergraduate degree in political science, Howard University.

1989: Kamala Harris earns a law degree from Hastings College, California.

1990: Kamala Harris begins working as deputy district attorney in Alameda County, California.

2000: Kamala Harris joins San Francisco City Hall. She runs the Family and Children’s Services Division representing child abuse and neglect cases.

2003: Kamala Harris elected as the first woman District Attorney in San Francisco’s history. She ran and won in a runoff against her former boss in the DA office.

2004-2010: For six long years, Kamala Harris serves as the first Indian and Black American woman District Attorney in California.

Feb 11, 2009: Shyamala Gopalan Harris passes away, after battling cancer. She was 70.

2010: Kamala Harris is elected attorney general of California, becoming the first woman and the first Indian and Black American to hold the post.

2012: Harris delivers a speech at the Democratic National Convention, raising her profile.

Aug 22, 2014: Harris marries Doug Emhoff in Santa Barbara, California. Kamala’s sister Maya Harris officiates.

2016: Kamala Harris is elected to the US Senate from California after defeating Loretta Sanchez. She replaces retiring Senator Barbara Boxer.

Jan 8, 2019: Harris’ memoir, The Truths We Hold: An American Journey, is published.

Jan 21, 2019: Harris launches her presidential run, with an announcement on Good Morning America.

Dec 3, 2019: Citing lack of funds, Harris shutters her presidential campaign.

Aug 11, 2020: Joe Biden announces Kamala Harris as his running mate on the presidential ticket.

Nov 7, 2020: Kamala Harris elected vice president of the United States on the Joe Biden ticket.

Nov 7, 2020: On a chilly Fall evening, Kamala Harris delivers a rousing victory speech, taking the stage before President-elect Joe Biden.

Jan 20, 2021: Kamala Harris will take her oath as America’s Vice President. She is the first woman of colour, first Indian and Black American to have ever held this position. (IANS)

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