Kamala Harris is on the verge of what is a double-dream for US Democrats: becoming the nation's first female vice president and ending Donald Trump's rule.

Harris entered the election already a repeat trailblazer as California's first black attorney general and the first woman of South Asian heritage elected to the US Senate.

But winning the vice presidency, a heartbeat away from leading the United States, is the most significant barrier she has broken yet and a stepping stone to the ultimate prize.

With 77-year-old Joe Biden expected to serve only a single term, Harris would be favoured to win the Democratic presidential nomination four years from now.

That could give her a shot at more history-making - becoming the first female president of the United States.

"My mother raised me to see what could be, unburdened by what has been," Harris, 56, wrote on Twitter.

Since being tapped as Biden's running mate in August, she has slammed Trump on his handling of the Covid-19 pandemic, but also racism, the economy and the president's crackdown on immigration.

Harris was born to immigrants to the United States - her father from Jamaica, her mother from India - and their lives and her own have in some ways embodied the American dream.

She was born on 20 October, 1964 in Oakland, California, then a hub for civil rights and anti-war activism.

Her diploma from historically black Howard University in Washington was the start of a steady rise that took her from prosecutor, to two elected terms as San Francisco's district attorney, and then California's attorney general in 2010.

However, Harris's self-description as a "progressive prosecutor" has been seized upon by critics who say she fought to uphold wrongful convictions and opposed certain reforms in California, like a bill requiring that the attorney general probe shootings involving police.

"Time after time, when progressives urged her to embrace criminal justice reforms as a district attorney and then the state's attorney general, Ms Harris opposed them or stayed silent," law professor Lara Bazelon wrote in The New York Times last year.

Yet Harris's work was key to forging a platform and profile from which she launched a successful Senate campaign in 2016, becoming just the second black female senator ever.

Her stint as attorney general also helped her forge a connection with Biden's late son Beau, who held the same position in the state of Delaware.

"I know how much Beau respected Kamala and her work, and that mattered a lot to me, to be honest with you, as I made this decision," Biden said during his first appearance with Harris as running mates.

"She is a trailblazer" said Derryn Moten from the Dept of History and Political Science, Alabama State University who said her role as Vice President is bigger than Barack Obama becoming the first black president of the United States.  

Her prosecutorial persona of interrogation and cutting retorts was seen in clips that went viral of her sharp questioning in 2017 of then-attorney general Jeff Sessions during a Capitol Hill hearing on Russia.

"I'm not able to be rushed this fast! It makes me nervous," an exasperated Sessions replied at one point.

Kailee Scales, Former Global MD of Black Lives Matter Movement told RTÉ that arris represents "a combination of all of this hard work that so many black women have been doing throughout history, not just in the past few months but is also representative a lot of the work that has been done over the past several decades to promote civil rights and human rights for Americans everywhere"

Harris also clashed with Biden during the first Democratic debate, chiding the former senator over his opposition to 1970s busing programmes that forced integration of segregated schools.

"There was a little girl in California who was part of the second class to integrate her public school, and she was bused to school every day," she said. "And that little girl was me."

That clash didn't stop him from picking Harris, who brought that feisty energy to Biden's carefully stage-managed campaign.

During her only debate against Vice President Mike Pence, Harris raised her hand as he tried to interrupt her.

"Mr Vice President, I'm speaking. I'm speaking," she said with a glare, silencing Pence.

Within hours of the debate, T-shirts bearing her words were being offered for sale online.

Her uncle in India, Gopalan Balachandran told RTÉ News that he and his family are 'feeling good' and they are so proud of her. 

"But I’ll be more proud in 2024 when she runs for the presidency." He said.

Kamala Harris’ motto came from her late mother: "You may be the first, but make sure you're not the last."