Kamala Harris, the second black female senator in US history, has entered the 2020 presidential race, joining an already crowded Democrat field.
Ms Harris, 54, told ABC’s Good Morning America: “I love my country. This is a moment in time that I feel a sense of responsibility to stand up and fight for the best of who we are.”
The African-American politician officially launched her campaign on Monday, America’s Martin Luther King Jr Day holiday, declaring in a campaign video: “Let’s do this, together”.
She described Dr King, the civil rights leader who was assassinated in 1968, as an inspiration, and said she was “honoured to be able to make my announcement on the day we commemorate him.”
The senator, who grew up in Oakland, California, had an Indian mother and Jamaican father, who were active in the civil rights movement.
She came to prominence as San Francisco district attorney and in 2010, became California’s attorney general.
When she was elected to the Senate six years later she was just the second black woman ever to serve in the chamber.
In her two years in the Senate, she has brought a prosecutor’s sharpness to the questioning of Donald Trump’s nominees on the Senate Judiciary Committee, such as Brett Kavanaugh.
Former attorney general Jeff Sessions said her rushed questions were making him “nervous”.
Ms Harris has a record of standing up to Mr Trump on the issues that most inflamed the liberal base of her party, such as the Muslim travel ban and the Daca programme for young undocumented illegal immigrants.
Her background often draws comparisons with that of Barack Obama and, when she was asked earlier this month whether the country was ready for a woman of colour to be president, she replied: “Absolutely”.
It appears she has her work cut out, however, as a recent NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist poll found that 54% of Democratic primary voters were unsure of, or had never heard, of her.
The senator, who joins several other female Democrats, including fellow senators Elizabeth Warren and Kirsten Gillibrand, and former housing secretary Julian Castro in the Democrat field.
Richard Odeja and representative John Delaney have also declared, but there is no clear front-runner as yet.
Others believed to be considering bids include senators Cory Booker, Sherrod Brown and Bernie Sanders and former vice-president Joe Biden.