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Kamala Harris opens up about 'second mother' who looked after her

The US Vice President-elect was surrounded by formidable women growing up

Ainhoa Barcelona

Kamala Harris has always been full of praise for her late mother Shyamala Gopalan Harris, but this week the US Vice President-elect decided to shine a spotlight on another woman who acted as her "second mother" figure.

Taking to Instagram ahead of next week's inauguration, Kamala said she would be sharing the people, places, and moments that influenced her life. And one of those people was her neighbour growing up, Mrs Shelton.

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Highlighting how central she was to her childhood and making her the person she is today, Kamala revealed: "Mrs. Shelton was a warm and eloquent woman, originally from Louisiana.

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"She and her husband, Arthur, owned and ran a nursery school. When our mother worked late, it was Mrs. Shelton's home where my sister, Maya, and I would go after school. Her house was like an extension of our own household, and Mrs. Shelton became a second mother to us."

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The politician added: "She was one of the smartest people I've ever known, and she lived by the belief that you always lend a hand to those in need – something Mrs. Shelton instilled in me. Even after I started working in the Alameda County District Attorney's Office, I would return to Mrs. Shelton's kitchen, where I always knew I would receive a warm hug and delicious food."

Kamala's biological mum was Shyamala, a breast cancer researcher who sadly died of colon cancer in 2009 aged 70. She moved from India to the United States to pursue the American dream and was "one of the few women of colour to have a position as a scientist at the University of California, Berkeley", Kamala has said on Instagram.

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Kamala shared this sweet photo on Instagram

"She was all of five feet, but if you ever met her you would think she was seven feet tall," she continued. "It's because of her that I was raised in a community where we were taught to see a world beyond just ourselves. To be conscious and compassionate about the struggles of all people."

Kamala's father Donald J. Harris is a retired economics professor from Stanford University. The couple split when Kamala was seven, with Shyamala winning custody of their daughters.

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