A Nigerian-American lady, Imelme Umana, class of Harvard Law School ’18, has broken a 130-year record to become the first Black woman elected President of Harvard Law Review.
Umana, who hails from Harrisburg, Pa., will be the 131st leader of the organization. As President of the Harvard Law Review, this job is considered the highest student position at Harvard Law School. The position is generally considered very prestigious in the USA.
The first black president in the Harvard Law Review’s 130-year history is President Barack Obama, the immediate past President of the USA.
At the time, Obama who was then a 28-year-old graduate of Columbia University, was enrolled at Harvard Law School.
Law reviews, which are edited by students, play a double role at law schools, provide a chance for students to improve their legal research and writing, and at the same time offer judges and scholars a forum for new legal arguments.
The president is elected by the editorial board of the independent, student-run publication, which was founded in 1887.
Umana, who graduated from Harvard College in 2014, expects to receive her Harvard law degree in 2018. She is most interested in the intersection between government and African American studies by exploring how stereotypes of black women are reproduced and reinforced in American Political discourse as an undergraduate in Lowell House, while working at Harvard’s Hiphop Archive & Research Institute and serving as president of the university’s Institute of Politics.
She has also worked as a criminal law investigative intern for the public defender’s office in Washington, D.C., an experience that, she said in 2013, opened her eyes to injustice.
Her predecessor, Michael L. Zuckerman ’10, in an email, hailed Umana on her successful election saying that he is excited to see where Umana will take the publication in the coming year.
“ImeIme is one of the most brilliant, thoughtful, and caring people I’ve ever met, and the Law Review is in phenomenally good hands.
“Candidates for the Law Review’s top post must answer questions from a forum of editors, write responses to submitted questions, and participate in mock editorial activities. This year’s field of 12 candidates featured eight women and eight people of color.
“ImeIme’s election as the Law Review’s first female black president is historic. For a field in which women and people of color have for too much of our past been marginalized or underrepresented, her election is an important and encouraging step toward a richer and more inclusive legal conversation.
“As president, Umana will oversee more the than 90 student editors and permanent staff members who make up the Law Review and communicate with writers, including senior faculty members.
“Knowing ImeIme, I can’t wait to applaud her in a year’s time for the extraordinary work that I am certain she will do.”
Umana’s election comes as the Law Review aims to accept editors from a wider variety of backgrounds. Last year, the legal journal elected the most diverse class of editors in its history, and in 2013 it expanded its affirmative action policy to include gender as a factor in its admissions process.
Though it took Harvard 130 years longer than it should have, the news of her extraordinary accomplishment couldn’t have come at a better time. Congratulations to her!