Shyamala Gopalan Harris Parented by Example

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Photo credit: Kamala Harris Campaign
Photo credit: Kamala Harris Campaign

From Town & Country

When Joe Biden picked Kamala Harris as his running mate, Maya L. Harris immediately thought of the one person who wasn’t alive to bask in the significance of the milestone: “You can’t know who Kamala Harris is without knowing who our mother was.” Shyamala Gopalan Harris, a scientist and activist who died a little over a decade ago, instilled in her daughters not just a sense of civic duty but the drive that eventually led them to the highest levels of public service, with Maya becoming one of the country’s youngest law school deans ever at 29, and later executive director of the Northern California ACLU, the rights organization’s largest affiliate. Kamala, of course, would become San Francisco district attorney, state attorney general, and its junior senator.

When she formally received the VP nomination, Maya tweeted out, “So incredibly proud of you, sis!” It was a charming display of sisterly warmth that is hard to imagine between earlier political siblings, but for the Harrises it’s a bond that extends into the next generation. Maya’s 35-year-old daughter, Meena, paid tribute to them in the children’s book she published this summer, Kamala and Maya’s Big Idea. A Harvard Law graduate, Meena is also helping her aunt on social media as one of her staunchest defenders, an apostle of positivity despite the acrimony of the campaign. The excitement she felt was the joy shared by a lot of us about this epochal first, a Black woman of Indian descent on a presidential ticket. History being made by women never gets old.

This story appears in the November 2020 issue of Town & Country. SUBSCRIBE NOW

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