She took her oath moments before Joe Biden was set to be sworn in as the nation’s 46th president.
Sonia Sotomayor, America’s first Latina Supreme Court justice, administered the vice presidential oath of office to Harris.
A daughter of Jamaican and Indian immigrants, Harris has made history throughout her career.
As a U.S. senator for California, Harris, 56, was the second Black woman and first South Asian American to serve in the upper chamber. Before her Senate tenure, Harris was the first female, Black and South Asian American attorney general of California. Harris also served as district attorney of San Francisco.
Harris ran for president in the 2020 Democratic primary before joining Biden’s ticket. Her record as a prosecutor at times sparked criticism from progressive advocates for criminal justice reform, though Harris has said she sought reform from within those roles. Harris clashed with Biden during first Democratic debate, criticizing his record on racial justice issues.
An alumna of Howard University and member of the Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority, Harris is also the first vice president to have graduated from a historically Black college and to be in a historically Black Greek letter organization.
After her own inauguration, Harris is set to swear in three barrier-breaking senators in her new role as president of the upper chamber.
Alex Padilla, appointed by California Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom as Harris’ successor, will be the first Latino senator from the state. Following a competitive January runoff elections, the Rev. Raphael Warnock will be the first Black senator from Georgia and Jon Ossoff will be the first Jewish senator from the Peach State.
The new Democratic senators will create a 50-50 split between the two party caucuses in the Senate, giving Democrats a slim majority with Harris as the tie-breaking vote.
On the campaign trail, Harris often recalled a message her mother, Shyamala Gopalan, told her, “You may be the first to do many things, but make sure you are not the last.”