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

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Kamala Harris

Kamala Harris made history after her Vice President nomination.

Now, she's made history again after being sworn in as the first Black and South Asian woman Vice President of the United States.

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.

Who is Kamala Harris's mom, Shyamala Gopalan Harris? 

Here's what to know about Shyamala Gopalan Harris.

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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 said 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.

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“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. 

Kamala Harris recently posted an Instagram video as part of 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. "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."

You can watch the full video above. 

Social media users flooded the comments section of the emotional video, with one user writing, "I am filled with hope today knowing that the Executive Branch will now have heart, soul, morals, and compassion."

Another social media user wrote, "Thank you for being a role model for me and for my daughter and for women everywhere!" and another simply said, "WE LOVE YOU KAMALA!"

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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