It takes time for people to accept change–and at the Harvard Law Review, it’s taken 130 years.
ImeIme Umana, the daughter of Nigerian immigrants, was elected president of the prestigious law journal on January 29th. “It still feels like magic that I’m here,” she said in an interview.
The 24 year old Harvard College grad (she majored in government and African-American studies!) was selected after a rigorous two day process that included the evaluation of a portfolio of her work, a written questionnaire, questions at a candidate forum, and a writing exercise. “I think our team saw in her what so many people have seen in her for so long,” said Michael L. Zuckerman, the review’s most recent president. “…she’s a brilliant person, an unbelievably dedicated worker and an exceptionally caring leader.”
Though she’s earned a position many have strived for, her mission is to serve–especially the people who look like her. After a summer internship, she decided to become a public defender. “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.” After graduation, she’ll become a clark at the United States Court of Appeals.
Umana hopes her role as president will help propel other women of color. She plans to hire a diverse staff, with writers and editors from all backgrounds, and she’s aware of the magnitude of her position. “I can’t help but think of the multitude of young black women who will never be anywhere near such an amount of privilege,” she said. “I’m especially humbled to serve as the first black woman president of the law review because of them.”