ImeIme Umana makes #herstory as the first elected black female president of the influential Harvard Law Review. The enormity of her election speaks as much of Umana’s strength of character as it does of her race and gender.
HLR’s presidency is considered the most prestigious student position at Harvard Law, where competition is notoriously fierce. Prior groundbreakers elected to the post include Susan Estrich as the first woman and the then scarcely heard-of Barack Obama as the first black man.
Umana approaches law through the lens of her race and gender, and her election is a momentous step in bridging the chasm between black women and their possible aspirations in a field where they are severely underrepresented. “We’ve been systematically excluded from the legal landscape, the legal conversation, and we’re just now making some important inroads,” she states. Yet colleagues cite her leadership skills and integrity of spirit as what sets her apart. The most anticipated aspects of Umana’s tenure will likely emerge from the young woman’s unwavering humanity paired with a perspective that has long been missing from HLR. Not just in it for herself, she endeavors to recruit a diverse group of editors and draw from a diverse pool of authors. Umana will graduate in 2018 and hopes to become a public defender.