On Sunday, Harvard Law School‘s black law students’ association announced on Twitter that Imelme Umana, HLS ’18, had become the first black woman to serve as president of the Harvard Law Review.
According to Clutch, Umana is most interested in exploring stereotypes of black women in American political discourse.
Umana’s role as president of the Review puts her in some pretty great company. Former President Barack Obama was the first black American to serve as president of the Harvard Law Review.
In response, some people put their money on Umana to serve as a future president. Or perhaps she could sit on the Supreme Court bench, as many justices have similar backgrounds with the Harvard Law Review.
President Barack Obama returned to his Harvard Law Review roots (he was the first black president of hundred-plus year old journal in his last year at the school) as he penned a 55-page-article on criminal justice reform, how his administration has moved the needle, and how far we have to go.
Entitled “The President’s Role in Advancing Criminal Justice Reform,” the piece appeared in the January 2017 edition of the illustrious book, and according to Harvard magazine, “largely restates the bipartisan case for criminal-justice reform, with an emphasis on mass incarceration’s financial cost.”
Obama did touch on the racial bias in our criminal justice policymaking in the article, writing:
A large body of research finds that, for similar offenses, members of the African American and Hispanic communities are more likely to be stopped, searched, arrested, convicted, and sentenced to harsher penalties. Rates of parental incarceration are two to seven times higher for African American and Hispanic children. Over the past thirty years, the share of African American adults with a past felony conviction—and who have paid their debt to society—has more than tripled, and one in four African American men outside the correctional system now has a felony record. This number is in addition to the one in twenty African American men under correctional supervision…The system of mass incarceration has endured for as long as it has in part because of the school-to-prison pipeline and political opposition to reform that insisted on ‘a stern dose of discipline—more policy, more prisons, more personal responsibility, and an end to welfare.’ Today, however, much of that opposition has receded, replaced by broad agreement that policies put in place in that era are not a good match for the challenges of today.