Who Is Kamala Harris’ Mom? Everything To Know About Shyamala Gopalan Harris

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Who Is Kamala Harris’ Mom? Everything You Need To Know About Shyamala Gopalan Harris
Entertainment And News

Kamala Harris made history after her Democratic Vice President nomination, and while we all know Kamala has an impressive resume, time and time again she’s shown praise for her mother, Shyamala Gopalan Harris, for raising her to be such a strong, hardworking woman.

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Who is Shyamala Gopalan Harris? She was a breast cancer researcher.

Shyamala Gopalan Harris was born in Chennai, India and dedicated much of her life to cancer research. She worked at the University of Illinois and the University of Wisconsin, and spent sixteen years working for 16 years at Lady Davis Institute for Medical Research and McGill University Faculty of Medicine.

Longtime friend Sharon McGafee told The Mercury News that although she “was a fun person to be around,” she was “very intense, too.”

“When I see (Kamala) now, it reminds me so much of her mother — that strength that she’s fighting for something, that she’s never intimidated,” she said. 

Shyamala Gopalan Harris was very well-educated. 

Shyamala Gopalan Harris clearly took her education very seriously. She graduated with her undergraduate degree from the University of New Delhi at age 19, and earned her PhD in endocrinology and nutrition from the University of California — Berkeley when she was 25 years old.  

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How did Shyamala Gopalan Harris meet her husband?

Shyamala Gopalan Harris met her husband, Donald Harris, at Berkeley while the pair were active in the civil rights movement in the ‘60s. They got married in 1964 and divorced only seven years later in December of 1971. Kamala was only seven years old at the time. 


Shyamala won full custody of her kids in 1973, and although we all know divorces can sometimes be brutal, Kamala insists that it wasn’t the case with her parents’ divorce.

“They didn’t fight about money,” Kamala wrote in her memoir. “The only thing they fought about was who got the books.”

How many kids does Shyamala Gopalan Harris have?

Shyamala Gopalan has two children: Kamala Harris and Maya Harris, who were the center of her world. 

“She knew that her adopted homeland would see Maya and me as black girls, and she was determined to make sure we would grow into confident, proud black women,” Kamala wrote in her book.

Kamala also referred to her mother as “a force of nature” in a heartfelt post on her Instagram in March earlier this year.

“My mother, Shyamala Gopalan Harris, was a force of nature and the greatest source of inspiration in my life,” she wrote. “She taught my sister Maya and me the importance of hard work and to believe in our power to right what is wrong. There’s no one I’d rather honor this first day of #WomensHistoryMonth.”

When did Shyamala Gopalan Harris die?

Sadly, Shyamala Gopalan Harris passed away in February of 2009 from colon cancer. She was 70 years old. 

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Olivia Jakiel is an editor and writer who covers celebrity and entertainment news. Follow her on Instagram and keep up with her zingers on Twitter