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Mon Jan 28, 2019, 12:21 PM

13 Trailblazing Facts About Kamala Harris

http://mentalfloss.com/article/90839/13-trailblazing-facts-about-kamala-harris

Kamala Harris, who announced her entry into the 2020 presidential race on January 21, 2019, is known as a trailblazer. When she was first sworn in as a Democratic senator from California in 2017, she became only the second African-American woman to serve in the Senate, as well as the first-ever person of South Asian descent to serve. But being a pioneer isn’t new for her. The child of immigrants from Jamaica and India, Harris was also the first woman elected as District Attorney of San Francisco and the first woman, the first African-American, and the first person of South Asian descent to become Attorney General of California. Those are just a few of her inspiring firsts—read on for more facts about Harris.

1. HER NAME IS JUST DIVINE.
Her full name is Kamala (pronounced “comma-la”) Devi Harris. Her mother, Shyamala, a Hindu, gave her daughters names taken from Hindu mythology in part to connect her children to their heritage. “A culture that worships goddesses produces strong women,” Shyamala told the Los Angeles Times in 2004.

Kamalā is one of many Sanskrit words meaning lotus, as well as a name for Lakshmi, the Hindu goddess of wealth and good fortune. Harris’s middle name, Devi, is a Sanskrit word used within Hinduism as the general term for a goddess. (Shyamala named her second daughter Maya Lakshmi, continuing the goddess trend.)

9. SHE HAS INNOVATIVE WAYS OF DEALING WITH CRIME.
In 2005, as district attorney, Harris launched Back on Track [PDF], a program designed to reduce recidivism by offering nonviolent, low-level drug-trafficking defendants job training, life skill-building, and the chance to avoid prison. Back on Track was highly successful: Two years after it launched, just 10% of graduates from the program had reoffended, versus the normal 53% for drug offenders in California. Plus, the program is cheaper than prison.

“I reject the false choice that you either are soft on crime or tough on crime,” she has said, insisting instead that we must be “smart on crime.” Her approach to criminal justice emphasizes preventing crime rather than reacting to it, and rehabilitating offenders rather than considering them lost.

11. SHE PLAYED HARDBALL WITH THE BANKS.
In her first year as California’s Attorney General, Harris played hardball during a multi-state suit against five major banks accused of improper foreclosure practices during the mortgage crisis. She pulled out of early negotiations, rejecting a multi-state deal that she felt brought too little money to California and protected the banks from prosecution for their actions, despite pressure from the Obama administration to accept those terms. “I took an oath to represent California, and that’s what I was doing,” Harris told The New York Times. “It was about making sure that Californians got what they needed.” Afraid she was jeopardizing the settlement, some pressured Harris to accept the initial terms. “The Los Angeles Times had an editorial saying I should take the deal,” she told San Francisco Magazine. “I got calls from elected leaders in California saying, ‘I hope you know what you’re doing.’”

Ultimately, she triumphed. Harris and her team secured $20 billion in mortgage relief for Californians, as well as the right to levy financial penalties if the banks failed to fulfill their promises in the deal.


Nobody is perfect, but Kamala Devi Harris is an amazing and impressive woman.

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