Kamala Devi Harris was born on October 20, 1964, in Oakland, California, the United States. Harris is the eldest of two children born to Shyamala Gopalan, a cancer researcher from India, and Donald Harris, an economist from Jamaica. Harris' mother, Shyamala, emigrated from India to attend the University of California, Berkeley, where she met Harris' Jamaican-born father, Donald. Shyamala carved out a career as a renowned breast-cancer researcher, while Donald became a Stanford University economics professor.
When Harris was seven, her parents separated and her mother was given custody of both the children. Subsequently, the sisters and their mother moved to Montreal, Québec, Canada. Her mother also ensured that Harris and her younger sister, Maya, maintained ties to their Indian heritage by raising them with Hindu beliefs and taking them to her home country every couple of years.