Who Are Kamala Harris's Parents? Everything To Know About Donald And Shyamala Gopalan Harris

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Kamala Harris
Entertainment And News

There was a lot of buildup to this particular announcement, but now it's official: Kamala Harris is the first Black and South Asian woman to serve has Vice President of the United States

Obviously, this is a huge deal, and the internet is buzzing with excitement. She might be best known for being a senator or her work as a former lawyer, but what about her personal life — and her childhood? 

Originally hailing from Oakland, California, Harris was born to Shyamala Gopalan Harris and Donald Harris.

Who are Kamala Harris's parents, Shyamala Gopalan Harris and Donald Harris?

RELATED: Who Is Kamala Harris' Sister, Maya Harris?

Kamala Harris's parents were both immigrants who met in college. 

Harris's mother came from, India while her father came from Jamaica, and they met when they were both graduate students at UC Berkeley.

They met while getting involved in activism on campus and got married before they graduated, later joining the civil rights movement to fight for racial equality.

Harris was raised by a single mother. 

Unfortunately, Shyamala and Donald's marriage wasn't meant to be.

By the time Harris was seven years old in 1971, they split, with Shyamala getting custody of Harris and her sister, Maya, while their father took a job out of state. 

Who is Kamala Harris's mom? Shyamala Gopalan Harris was a breast cancer researcher. 

While raising Harris and Maya, Shyamala worked in academia as a breast cancer researcher, and her obituary painted her as an incredibly impressive woman until her death in 2009. 

"She embodied an independent, confident and curious spirit that led her to travel alone to the U.S. as a teen; forge a career as a brilliant breast cancer researcher; join the Civil Rights Movement; introduce a generation of students of color to careers in science; and, through it all, raise two remarkable young women, by herself," her obituary said. 

Harris's mother is her inspiration. 

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RELATED: Who Is Kamala Harris's Niece, Meena Harris?

In an Instagram post she shared in 2019, Harris revealed that her mother was her inspiration behind running for president: 

"My sister Maya and I were raised by a strong mother.⁣ My mother taught us the importance of a good education. ⁣She taught us the good old-fashioned value of hard work," she wrote. "She taught us don’t let anyone tell you who you are. You tell them who you are. ⁣

She taught us not only to dream but to do. ⁣She taught us to believe in our power to right what is wrong. ⁣And she was the kind of parent who if you came home complaining about something, she’d say 'Well what are you gonna do about it?' So I decided to run for President of the United States."

Who is Kamala Harris's dad? Her father, Donald, is a professor.

Harris' father, Donald Harris, was an economics professor at Stanford University from 1972 until his retirement in 1998.

Since then, he's worked as an economist and famously said that he "dissociated" himself from his daughter when she joked about smoking pot in 2019 because of her Jamaican heritage on his side. 

Kamala Harris doesn't seem as close with her father. 

When Harris talks about her family (or posts about them on Instagram) she mostly speaks about her sister and her mom, so it seems that's who she was closest to.

It seems like her relationship with her mother has definitely inspired her career and will continue to inspire her to do great things, and in an Instagram post on Jan. 20 — Inauguration Day — Kamala Harris confirmed that her mother served as her inspiration for her entire life.

Harris posted a touching video on Instagram that served as a tribute to her mother.

"To the woman most responsible for my presence here today: my mother, Shyamala Gopalan Harris: who is always in our hearts," the video starts, as a montage of images from Harris's childhood and images of her with her mother play in the video. "When she came here from India at the age of 19, she mayve didn't quite imagine this moment. But she believed so deeply in an America, where a moment like this is possible."

"And so I'm thinking about her, and about the generations of women, Black women, Asian women, white, Latina, Native American women, who throughout our nation's history, have paved the way for this moment."

RELATED: How Do You Pronounce Kamala Harris's Name?

Nicole Pomarico is an entertainment and lifestyle writer whose work has appeared in Cosmo, Us Weekly, Refinery29, and more.