Harvard Law Review Elects Its First Black Woman President In 130 Years

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Harvard Law Review Elects Its First Black Woman President In 130 Years

ImeIme Umana is a joint degree candidate at Harvard Law School and Harvard Kennedy School of Government.

New York:  Twenty-seven years after it elected a black man as its president for the first time, the esteemed Harvard Law Review voted a black woman to the post, making it the first in its 130-year history. Incidentally, the black man was former US president Barack Obama.

Twenty-four-year-old ImeIme Umana is the third daughter of her Nigerian immigrant parents. As many as 92 student editors of the venerable journal elected Ms Umana as the president of its 131st volume.

The election process is elaborate, prolonged and difficult, requiring a thorough dissection of her work and application. In addition to this, a 12-hour-long deliberation of her portfolio is also a must.

It has been even longer, 41 years to be precise, since the first woman, Susan Estrich, was elected to the position.

Ms Umana, who grew up in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, is a joint degree candidate at Harvard Law School and the Harvard Kennedy School of Government.

"I didn't realise (civics) could be so personal and so alive for a lot of the students," she told the Harvard Crimson, the school's newspaper.

"It taught me sensitivity in teaching but it also taught me, like the public defender's service, to not assume certain backgrounds, certain reactions, certain lived experiences," she said.

Her tenure begins next school year. The Harvard Law Review, which, like other law reviews, allows students to hone their legal writing skills and gives scholars a forum to thrash out legal arguments. It is often the most-cited journal of its kind and has the largest circulation of any such publication in the world.

Its presidency is considered the highest-ranking student position at the ferociously competitive law school and a ticket to virtually anywhere in the legal realm. Half of the current US Supreme Court justices served on the Harvard Law Review, though none as its president.

On why did it took so long to elect a black woman, Ms Umana said the lag reflects a wide gulf between black women and law school and the law in general, a profession in which minorities have historically been underrepresented.

"We've been systematically excluded from the legal landscape, the legal conversation, and we're just now making some important inroads," she said.

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