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Kamala Harris sworn in as America's first woman vice president

Last updated on: January 20, 2021 23:33 IST

Kamala Harris was on Wednesday sworn in as America's first woman vice president during a historic inauguration at the West Front of the Capitol.

IMAGE: Kamala Harris is sworn in as US Vice President as her spouse Doug Emhoff holds a bible during the inauguration of Joe Biden as the 46th President of the United States on the West Front of the US Capitol in Washington. Photograph: Kevin Lamarque/Reuters

Harris, 56, the 49th US Vice President, will serve as the deputy of President Joe Biden, 78, who also took the oath of office, becoming the 46th US President.

Harris took over the office of the US Vice President from 61-year-old Mike Pence. Biden succeeded President Donald Trump, 74.


In her first tweet as vice president from her official Twitter handle, she said: "Ready to serve."

Harris, the daughter of an Indian immigrant from Chennai, scripted history by becoming the first-ever woman Vice President of the United States. She is also the first female, first Black and first South Asian American vice president.

Her husband Douglas Emhoff, 56, is the first ‘Second Gentleman' -- the first male spouse of a vice president in the US.

Justice Sonia Sotomayor, the first Latina member of the Supreme Court, administered the oath of office to Harris.

IMAGE: US Vice President Kamala Harris waves during the inauguration. Photograph: Kevin Lamarque/Reuters

She was sworn in on two Bibles -- one that belonged to a close family friend named Regina Shelton and another that belonged to Thurgood Marshall -- the country's first African American Supreme Court justice.

M R Rangaswami, Indiaspora founder said: "I had goose bumps when I saw an Indian American woman take the oath as Vice President of the USA! Only here can a daughter of an Indian immigrant achieve her dream and much more. She is such an inspiration for my daughters and so many other young girls across the country!”

Harris is the daughter of an Indian mother and African-American father from Jamaica.

She was born in Oakland, California, in 1964, to parents who raised her in a bassinet of civil rights activism.

Her mother, Shyamala Gopalan Harris from Chennai, was a breast cancer researcher who died of cancer in 2009. Harris' father, Donald, is a Jamaican American professor of economics.

IMAGE: Vice President Kamala Harris greets President-elect Joe Biden after being sworn in by US Supreme Court Associate Justice Sonia Sotomayor as her husband Doug Emhoff looks on at the inauguration. Photograph: Rob Carr/Getty Images

On the campaign trail, Harris often talked about how her activist parents would push her in her stroller at civil rights marches. The couple divorced in 1972.

Harris grew up in the Bay Area but took frequent trips to India to visit extended family. At 12, she and her sister, Maya, moved with their mother to Montreal, where Gopalan Harris had secured a teaching post at McGill University as well as a research position at the Jewish General Hospital.

After graduating from Howard in 1986 for her undergraduate degree and from the University of California's Hastings College of the Law in 1989, Harris passed the bar the following year and joined the Alameda County prosecutor's office as an assistant district attorney. From there, she began her political ascent.

In 2003, Harris won her first race for San Francisco district attorney, becoming the first Black woman to hold such an office in California. In 2010, she became the first Black woman elected as California attorney general, and in 2016, she became only the second Black woman ever elected as a US senator.

IMAGE: Kamala Harris is embraced by her husband Doug Emhoff after her swearing-in during the inauguration. Photograph: Jim Bourg/Reuters

The inauguration, which was held in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, saw no large gatherings as the Presidential Inaugural Committee and local law enforcement officials had asked the public not to travel to Washington DC for the event.

Elaborate security arrangements were put in place for the historic inauguration following the January 6 riot at the Capitol by supporters of outgoing President Trump.

The event was held under the unprecedented security umbrella of over 25,000 National Guards, who have transformed the capital into a garrison city, mainly because of the threat of more violent protests by the supporters of Trump.

IMAGE: US Former President Barack Obama greets Doug Emhoff as Vice President Kamala Harris greets former First Lady Michelle Obama. Photograph: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Biden, Harris and their spouses will visit Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia, where they will lay a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.

After the wreath ceremony, they will head to the White House, where they will get a presidential escort. That will kick off the virtual "Parade Across America," featuring performances from all 56 states and territories.


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