Kamala Harris sworn in as first African-American Asian-American Attorney General of California
Harris’ ceremony was held at the California Museum for History, Women & the Arts.
She is the first woman and first African American/Indian-American elected as California’s attorney general.
The California Museum For History, Women & The Arts showcases the achievements of Californians throughout history. Former First Lady Maria Shriver led the effort to re-establish the museum in 2005.
The Museum was the perfect place for this historic swearing-in ceremony.
Her website has this article from the San Francisco Chronicle
From a political standpoint, Kamala Harris’ upset victory over Steve Cooley for state attorney general was remarkable. He was the district attorney from Los Angeles, which allowed him to start the campaign with a deeper support base and the opportunity to chide the San Francisco district attorney as a caricature of the leftist city she served.
California voters, however, had other ideas. They chose Harris, the 46-year-old career prosecutor with the more thoughtful and expansive vision of the role of an attorney general. As with Brown, Harris said she would not defend laws she regarded as blatantly unconstitutional (such as Prop. 8, the voter-approved ban on same-sex marriage) and would help assure the implementation of the state’s landmark climate-change law. Harris pledged to enforce the state’s death penalty law despite her personal opposition to it – but she repeatedly and correctly reminded voters that it was not the most pressing criminal-justice issue in the state.
Her top priority would be to try new approaches to reducing the state’s unacceptably high recidivism rate, which represents a serious peril to public safety and a steady drain on the state budget.
We were all pulling for her here, and we congratulate Sister Harris, and the voters of California who rallied to her support.
For those not familiar with her background, Harris exemplifies much of what the landscape of the US will look like in the future.
Harris was born in Oakland, California. She is the daughter of a Tamil Indian mother, Dr. Shyamala Gopalan – a breast cancer specialist who immigrated to the United States from Chennai, Tamil Nadu, India in 1960 – and a Jamaican American father, Stanford University economics professor Donald Harris. She has one sister, Maya Lakshmi, and grew up in a household that blended the traditions of each of her cultures, attending Hindu and Baptist ceremonies.
Harris attended Howard University in Washington, D.C., where she was initiated into Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority, and received her Juris Doctor (JD) from University of California, Hastings College of the Law in 1989.
Daughter of immigrants, she was raised by her mom. Both of her parents were activists in civil rights struggles which she discusses in this video feature done by Lifetime.
She speaks of her parents, “They were marching and shouting about this thing we call Justice, so I thought at a very young age that’s what everyone does…fight for Justice”
She had a strong track record as the San Francisco District attorney doing just that.
Harris has created a special Hate Crimes Unit as San Francisco District Attorney. She has focused on hate crimes against LGBT children and teens in schools. She convened a national conference to confront the “gay-transgender panic defense”, which has been used to justify violent hate crimes. Harris supports same-sex marriage in California and opposed both Proposition 22 and Proposition 8.
In 2004, The National Urban League honored Harris as a “Woman of Power” and she received the Thurgood Marshall Award from the National Black Prosecutors Association in 2005. In her campaign for California Attorney General, she has received the endorsements of numerous groups, including the abortion rights EMILY’s List, California Legislative Black Caucus, Asian American Action Fund, Black Women Organized for Political Action, Mexican American Bar Association, South Asians for Opportunity, and the National Women’s Political Caucus.
Harris has been vocal in the immigration debate, supporting San Francisco’s immigration policy of not inquiring about immigration status in the process of a criminal invesitgation. Harris argues that it is important that immigrants be able to talk with law enforcement without fear.
Her book “Smart on Crime“
discusses her ideas about crime and the criminal justice system.
The old approaches to fighting crime just aren’t working. Two thirds of people released from prison commit another crime within two years. In Smart on Crime, career prosecutor Kamala D. Harris shatters the old distinctions, rooted in false choices and myths, and offers a compelling argument for how to make the criminal justice system truly, not just rhetorically, tough. Harris spells out the necessary shifts that will increase public safety, reduce costs, and strengthen our communities when our politicians and law enforcement officials learn how to become tough and smart on crime.
Politico described her as the Democrat’s Anti-Palin, and discussed her track-record in the DA’s office.
Predictions about Harris’s bright future stems as much from her resume — she spent a decade as a front-line prosecutor in San Francisco before taking over the district attorney’s office, where she pioneered efforts to slow recidivism — as her liberal credentials. In an approach hailed by progressives, she advocates for “smart” reform of the criminal justice system, including tackling root causes like recidivism, and is opposed to the death penalty, refusing to ask for it in the prosecution of a cop-killer — a decision that a national GOP group allied with Cooley, the Los Angeles district attorney, bludgeoned her with in the closing days of the campaign.
And her signature program, “Back on Track,” reportedly reduced the recidivism rate in San Francisco from the state standard of 70 percent to less than 10 percent. Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger praised it as a model for the state, and Harris wants to build on that model in her new job.
But like Obama, Harris has sought to avoid being tied to Democratic orthodoxy. Her ”
Smart on Crime” approach in San Francisco included cracking down on truancy — including charging the parents of chronically truant children with a misdemeanor punishable by jail time and a fine. Civil libertarians and conservatives alike raised questions about the move, but Harris was unapologetic.
“My staff went bananas” at the policy, Harris said, as did school administrators. Citing statistics linking crime and truancy, she argues that she’s nipping a problem in the bud.”My bottom line is these children have to be in school,” she said.”There will be outrage when in 10 years they’re a menace to society hanging out on the corner.”
Her victory was hard fought and the election was a squeaker but she pulled it off and discussed that win with Lawrence O’Donnell who joked with her about his interview helping her in the final days of the battle against a Karl Rove mounted campaign against her.
Let’s take a look at her acceptance speech when she won the nomination:
Kamala Harris victory speech in San Francisco – 2010 California Primary
Now she’s got the victory.
Congratulations to Kamala Harris and congratulations to the people of California.
cross-posted from Black Kos