In 2009, when Kamala Harris was campaigning to be attorney general of California, a position no woman or person of color had held before, she shared her personal motto with a reporter: “You may be the first, but make sure you’re not the last.”
It was a message instilled in her by her mother, Shyamala Gopalan Harris. Now, Harris has won election as the first woman vice president. She is also the first Black person and the first candidate of South Asian descent to be elected to the office.
“First woman, first Black person, and first person of South Asian descent” is a triplet that has followed Harris throughout her career. Before she became California’s attorney general, she was the first woman and first person of color to serve as district attorney of San Francisco. In 2017, Harris became the first Black person, and Black woman, to represent California in the U.S. Senate—as well as the 10th Black American, the second Black woman, and the first South Asian American to sit in the chamber.