Harvard Law Review President ImeIme Umana / SHUNELLA GRACE LUMAS

First Black Woman Elected President of Harvard Law Review

The Harvard Law Review, which has been in existence for 130 years, has named student Imelme A. Umana its president. Umana makes history as she will serve as the law review’s first Black woman president.


According to her LinkedIn profile, Umana, who is from Harrisburg, Pa., anticipates receiving her Harvard law degree in 2018, and she graduated from Harvard College in 2014. As an undergraduate she focused on African American studies, served as president of the Harvard’s Institute of Politics and worked at the university’s Hiphop Archive.

In her position, Umana will manage more than 90 student editors and permanent staff members. In addition, she will communicate with writers, including senior faculty members at Harvard.

Umana follows in the footsteps of former President Barack Obama, who in 1990 became the first Black man elected as president of the law review.

The Harvard Black Law Students Association congratulated her Sunday with the following tweet:

This past summer the Harvard Law Review inducted a group of editors reflective of the law school’s class of 2018.

According to The Harvard Crimson, 46 percent of the incoming editors were women — “an increase of about 10 percentage points from an average of the past three years.”

“Forty-one percent are students of color, compared to the same three-year average of 28 percent on the Law Review,” the Harvard Crimson says. “Both roughly reflect the corresponding breakdown of the wider Law School class.”

The law school faced controversy in 2016 over its seal that had ties to Boston-area slave owners. After a student group’s campaign, one of the university’s governing boards agreed to retire the seal.

Approved in 1936 as part of the university’s 300th anniversary, the seal contained the university’s motto “Veritas” and three bundles of wheat, a design based on the family crest of Isaac Royall Sr., an 18th-century slaveholder who was known for his cruelty to slaves on Caribbean sugar plantations and Massachusetts farms.

Upon his death in 1739 he passed his wealth — including enslaved persons — to his son Isaac Royall Jr., whose donation to Harvard in 1781 was used to create the first endowed professorship of law in 1815. The shield is widely considered a memorial for the Royalls.

The law school was tasked with proposing a new symbol that better represents its values.

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