NEW YORK, New York - California senator Kamala Harris announced she's running for the Democratic nomination for president Monday.
— Kamala Harris (@KamalaHarris) January 21, 2019
She made the announcement during an appearance on ABC’s Good Morning America.
Harris would be the first African American woman to be a major party nominee for the presidency if she secures the Democratic nomination.
Harris, 54, plans to launch her campaign during a rally in Oakland, California, on Jan. 27.
She's now the third sitting senator to maker her case for 2020.
Harris, a daughter of immigrant parents who grew up in Oakland, California, is one of the earliest high-profile Democrats to join what is expected to be a crowded field.
Harris launched her presidential as the nation observes what would have been the 90th birthday of the slain civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. The timing was a clear signal that the California senator— who has joked that she had a "stroller's-eye view" of the civil rights movement because her parents wheeled her and her sister Maya to protests — sees herself as another leader in that fight.
She abandoned the formality of launching an exploratory committee, instead going all in on a presidential bid.
Before her 2016 victory in the Senate race, Harris made her career in law enforcement. She served as the district attorney in San Francisco before she was elected to serve as attorney general.
Harris is likely to face questions about her law enforcement record, particularly after the Black Lives Matter movement and activists across the country pushed for a criminal justice overhaul. Harris's prosecutorial record has recently come under new scrutiny after a blistering opinion piece in The New York Times criticized her repeated claim that she was a "progressive prosecutor," focused on changing a broken criminal justice system from within.
Harris addressed her law enforcement background in her book. She argued it was a "false choice" to decide between supporting the police and advocating for greater scrutiny of law enforcement.
She "knew that there was an important role on the inside, sitting at the table where the decisions were being made," she wrote. "When activists came marching and banging on the doors, I wanted to be on the other side to let them in."
Harris supported legislation that passed the Senate last year that overhauled the criminal justice system, particularly when it comes to sentencing rules.
Harris is framing her campaign through her courtroom experience. The theme of her nascent campaign is "Kamala Harris, for the people," the same words she spoke as a prosecutor, trying a case in the courtroom.