African-American Senator and former California Attorney General Kamala Harris has been chosen by Democratic pre-candidate for the U.S. presidency, Joseph Biden, to join him as his vice presidential candidate in the November 3 election.
The senator becomes the first African-American to be nominated for vice president in one of the two major parties and will have to deal with criticism about her controversial record as a prosecutor in the era of protests against police brutality and the "Black Lives Matter" movement.
"I am very honored to announce that I have selected Kamala Harris--an intrepid fighter for the ordinary citizen, and one of the best public servants--as my running mate," Biden said in the message announcing his running mate.
The 55-year-old senator, the daughter of a Jamaican father and an Indian mother, was the attorney general of California before winning her seat in the Upper House of the U.S. Congress in 2016, and has earned a reputation for being especially tough from the prosecution bench to her inquisitorial interventions at Senate hearings.
Harris is making history by being elected by Biden as the first woman of color to run for the U.S. vice presidency, a candidacy that will finally be sealed at the Democratic National Convention later this month and for which she was competing with such high-profile women as former U.N. ambassador Susan Rice and Congresswomen Val Demings and Karen Bass.
"Joe Biden can unite the American people because he has spent his life fighting for us. As president, he will contribute to an America that lives up to our ideals. I'm honored to join him as the party's nominee for vice president and will do whatever it takes to make him our Commander-in-Chief," Harris said today on Twitter as soon as the decision on his nomination is known.
Biden had already said when he cemented his aspirations as a Democratic candidate for president that his choice for vice president would be a woman, while as the months went by it became clear that the favorites were all African-American.
Harris has had a meteoric rise to the top of the Washington political scene: she graduated from Howard University, one of the top African-American universities, with a degree in political science and economics, specialized in fighting crime, and was elected in 2003 as California's attorney general in a runoff election, to which she was re-elected in 2007 with 98% of the vote.
Last December she announced that she was withdrawing from the race for the presidential nomination against Biden, who on Tuesday did not come as a big surprise, as all the pools ranked Harris as the favourite and the least risky choice.
The more progressive wing of the party has not ceased its attacks on Harris since he made his ambitions clear, especially with the increase in debate and the protests against police brutality, considering that in his time as prosecutor he was especially tough in his pursuit of minor crimes, which especially affect communities of color.
"Kamala is a cop" is one of the most repeated attacks on her by both left-wing and far-right activists who want to ignite political debate on social networks.
Harris has not renounced her past and has shown during her campaign her profile of being tough on crime, taking convictions to extremes during her time as a prosecutor, but also to the fact that many African-Americans spent long years in prison for crimes that today are not even considered misdemeanors.
Following the death of Black man George Floyd by the Minneapolis police, which sparked protests across the country, Harris said that there is "systemic racism" in the U.S. and that "police brutality is a matter of life and death for Black people in this country.
Harris has the support of former President Barack Obama, and his appointment is a blow to the closest social democratic wing of the Democratic Party, which, despite gaining influence and seats in recent years, is seeing the "establishment" reassert its will.
"Joe Biden has nailed it with his decision. By electing Senator Kamala Harris as the next vice president, he has shown his judgment and character," Obama said.