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Harvard Law Review Elects Its First Black Woman President

ImeIme Umana has been elected president of the Harvard Law Review. She will be the first black woman to hold the position.

Umana, who graduated from Harvard College in 2014, expects to receive her Harvard law degree in 2018, according to her LinkedIn profile. She focused on government and African-American studies as an undergraduate, while working at Harvard's Hiphop Archive & Research Institute and serving as president of the university's Institute of Politics.

Umana also worked as a criminal law investigative intern for the public defender's office in Washington, D.C., an experience that, she said in 2013, opened her eyes to injustice.

“It’s very easy to presume that you know a lot about urban communities and the troubles they face,” Umana told the Harvard Crimson. “I read ‘The New Jim Crow,’ and I read ‘Sister Citizen,’ and I read ‘Killing the Black Body,’ and I’ve watched all of these documentaries, and I’ve written all these papers, but the internship, really, in just a few days, showed me how little I actually did know about the realities of the situation and urban America.”

In that interview, Umana also reflected on an encounter with a student while she was tutoring a fifth-grade class. As she discussed the Second Amendment, she said, the student mentioned that a relative had been shot.

“I didn’t realize [civics] could be so personal and so alive for a lot of the students,” Umana said. “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.”

The president is elected by the editorial board of the independent, student-run publication, which was founded in 1887. Its current issue leads with a commentary by a previous president of the review who also made history, as the first black man elected to that post: Barack Obama.

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