First Black Woman Named President of The Harvard Law Review

On January 29, after a 12-hour deliberation period that stretched out over two days, The Harvard Law Review's 92 student editors elected ImeIme (pronounced "Ah-MAY-may") Umana, 24, as the first black woman president.

Making history in the position before her, Barack Obama became the review's first black president 27 years ago, while Susan Estrich became the first female president 47 years ago.

Umana, the third-oldest of four daughters of Nigerian immigrants will be the president of the review's 131st volume.

The presidency is noted as the highest-ranking student position and The New York Times writes it is "a ticket to virtually anywhere in the legal realm."

"It feels like magic that I'm here," Umana said.

The editors who elected her from the 12 candidates said it was, in fact, not magic.

"I think our team saw in her what so many people have seen in her for so long — that she’s a brilliant person, an unbelievably dedicated worker and an exceptionally caring leader," third-year law student and the review's previous president, Michael L. Zuckerman said.

Umana plans to pursue her dreams a public defender — a dream she felt confident solidifying after interning last summer in the public defender's office in the Bronx, N.Y.

"A lot of the clients I worked with that summer and since have looked a lot like me," she said."They are disproportionately represented on the unfortunate end of the legal system, so it struck a little closer to home."

Up until 1950, women were not allowed to attend law school and the NYT reports that the gender gap did not start closing until the late 1970s, when Estrich was elected as the first female president.

Currently, 46 percent of editors at the Harvard Law Review are women and 41 percent are minority students.

"I can't help but think of the multitude of young black women who will never be anywhere near such an amount of privilege," Umana said. "I'm especially humbled to serve as the first black woman president of the law review because of them."

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