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Kamala Harris says an abused high school friend inspired her to fight for women: 'I wanted to protect people'

Elena Sheppard
·Wellness Editor
·3 min read
Kamala Harris is opening up about her career inspiration. (Photo: ANGELA WEISS / AFP)
Kamala Harris is opening up about her career inspiration. (Photo: ANGELA WEISS / AFP)

VP-elect Kamala Harris launched her career in public service on a personal note: She was inspired by a high school friend living in an abusive home.

“When I was in high school, I learned my best friend was being molested by her father. Once she told me, I said to her ‘Well, you have to come stay with us.’ — And she did,” Harris wrote on Instagram Saturday. “A big part of the reason I wanted to be a prosecutor was to protect people like her and change the system.”

She posted a handful of photos, including of herself being sworn in for her second term as district attorney by Senator Dianne Feinstein (with her mother depicted), officiating the first same-sex marriage ceremony in California in 2013; and her own wedding to Doug Emhoff in 2014.

Harris began her career in the district attorney’s office in Alameda County before becoming San Fransisco’s district attorney, California’s attorney general, and the state’s senator. She will be sworn in as vice president on January 20, alongside President-elect Joe Biden.

“In fact, a big part of my career has been about protecting women and children, including prosecuting child sexual assault cases, and ensuring that children had a shot at being great,” Harris wrote in her post.

Harris has spoken of this friend before, in a campaign video last fall. “A big part of the reason I wanted to be a prosecutor was to protect people like her,” she said in the footage. “And in fact, the vast majority of my career as a prosecutor was about protecting women and children, including a significant period of time where I specialized in child sexual assault cases.”

In the Instagram post, Harris also touched on other facets of her work. “Fighting for the people meant fighting on behalf of survivors of sexual assault like my friend. It meant going to bat for middle-class families who had been defrauded by banks and winning $20 billion for California homeowners during the foreclosure crisis,” she wrote. “It meant leading the charge against Corinthian Colleges for luring in students with false promises about job prospects and leaving them saddled with debt. It meant refusing to defend Prop 8 because the LGBTQ+ community had been waiting for equality long enough.”

She added, “Ever since that moment in high school, I knew I wanted to protect people—and that is what I did and will continue to do in the White House.”

Earlier this week, Harris wrote on Instagram that she planned to share “the people, places, and moments that have had an influence on my life” including her parents, a beloved neighbor, her first-grade teacher, and of course, Emhoff.

“As I transition into the White House, I’m blessed to have Doug by my side,” she wrote in her Saturday post. “We were set up on a blind date in 2013, and it was practically love at first sight. It felt like we had known each other forever. We were married a year later in a ceremony officiated by my sister Maya.”

Harris will be sworn in this week by Justice Sonia Sotomayor, the first Latina supreme court justice.

On Sunday, Harris and Emhoff will appear in their first joint interview, to air on CBS Sunday Morning. Harris will talk about the coronavirus pandemic, the Jan. 6 U.S. Capitol attack and President Trump’s second impeachment.

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