ImeIme Umana shocked the world when she was named the 131st president of Harvard’s Law Review. At 24 years old, Umana now holds the highest-ranking student position at the already competitive Harvard Law School.
It is no secret that there is a thick glass ceiling between Black women and the executive positions they strive to obtain. The ceiling gets heavier when we start to look at the gender and racial disparity at some of the nation’s top law reviews. Although Harvard was opened in 1887, the first woman was not admitted until the 1950s.
Harvard University is not only the most prestigious University in the U.S. but the law school is responsible for over half of our Supreme Court Justices to date. This group allows students to hone their legal writing skills and gives scholars a forum in which to thrash out legal arguments. The Harvard Review is often the most-cited journal of its kind and has the largest circulation of any such publication in the world.
ImeIme Umana is an example of Black excellence. She is a woman who understands the tragic relationships that Black men and women have with the law in which she seeks to change. She plans on using her race and gender to build relationships with underprivileged individuals as a public defender instead of taking a high-paying job at a public firm. This decision indicates that Umana has a great concern with the people in whom she can help rather than the great dollar amount that comes with having a Harvard Law degree.
Umana’s main goal is to start recruiting a diverse set of editors and authors to the Harvard Law Review as well as getting ready to start her clerkship. Umana took a position at the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit as a clerk in order to create a more flexible route to becoming a public defender post-graduation.
Becoming the President of the prestigious University Law Review means opening more doors for Black women all around the world to go on to do great things. “You are not successful until you have brought the next woman up,” Umana shares.
“It is not success if it is just you.” She is devoted to making sure she looks to appreciate her past during her journey, in efforts to bring other women to the front line. She also states, “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 is humbled at holding this great title and there is no doubt in our minds that she will be a great first Black woman president of the Harvard Review but not the last.