Imelme Umana Becomes 1st Black Woman President of the Harvard Law Review

Imelme Umana (photo via mic.com)

article by Mathew Rodriguez via mic.com

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.

To read more, go to: Imelme Umana becomes first black woman to serve as president of the Harvard Law Review

President Obama Pens 55-Page Article on Criminal Justice Reform in Harvard Law Review

(photo via theroot.com)

article via theroot.com

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.

To read full article, go to: President Obama Pens 55-Page Article on Criminal Justice

Columbia University Professor Kimberlé Crenshaw Honored by the American Bar Foundation

Professor Kimberlé Crenshaw (photo via twitter.com)

Professor Kimberlé Crenshaw (photo via twitter.com)

article via jbhe.com

Kimberlé W. Crenshaw, a professor of law at Columbia University and a professor of law at the University of California, Los Angeles, will receive the Outstanding Scholar Award from the Fellows of the American Bar Foundation.

Professor Crenshaw is the author of many books including Say Her Name: Resisting Police Brutality Against Black Women (African American Policy Forum, 2015).

Professor Crenshaw is a graduate of Cornell University and Harvard Law School. She earned a master’s degree in law at the University of Wisconsin.

U.S. Senate Confirms Wilhelmina Wright as Federal District Court Judge for Minnesota

(Via Wikipedia)

Wilhelmina “Mimi” Wright (Photo courtesy of  Office of Governor Dayton CC License 2.0/Wikipedia )

article by MSR Online via spokesman-recorder.com

U.S. Senators Amy Klobuchar and Al Franken announced that the Senate voted to confirm the nomination of Wilhelmina “Mimi” Wright as a U.S. District Court Judge for the District of Minnesota. Currently serving on the Minnesota Supreme Court, Wright has over 25 years of legal experience and has served at all levels in the Minnesota courts system.

Wright was recommended to the senators by a bipartisan judicial selection advisory committee. Klobuchar and Franken formed the bipartisan advisory committee to review candidates and assist them in making a recommendation for the position. The Senate only confirmed 10 District Court Judges in 2015, making this confirmation a major bipartisan victory.

“The confirmation of Mimi Wright to be Federal District Court Judge is a major victory for Minnesota,” Klobuchar said. “She is a dedicated public servant with a distinguished career spanning all levels of the state and federal legal system. I fought hard for her confirmation, and I have no doubt she will serve Minnesota well.

“While many judicial nominees are languishing in the Senate, she has made it through the confirmation gauntlet. That is a tribute to her and those who supported her. I thank the Democratic and Republican Senators that voted for her after examining her record and seeing her strength and fairness during the hearing.”

Wright was appointed to the Minnesota Supreme Court in 2012. She previously served on the Minnesota Court of Appeals from 2002-2012. Prior to this appointment, she served as a trial judge on the Ramsey County District Court.

Before joining the bench, Wright was an assistant U.S. attorney for the District of Minnesota, where she represented the United States in complex economic fraud cases and violent crime cases. During her time as a federal prosecutor, she received the United States Department of Justice Director’s Award and the United States Department of Justice Special Achievement Award.

Before joining the U.S. Attorney’s office, Wright practiced with Hogan & Hartson, LLP in Washington, D.C. She received her Bachelor of Arts from Yale University in 1986 and her Juris Doctorate from Harvard Law School in 1989.

Five African Americans Named Rhodes Scholars for 2015

(L to R) Robert A. Fisher, Rachel V. Harmon, Ridwan Y. Hassen, Tayo A. Sanders II, and Sarah E. Yermina

The Rhodes Trust has announced the latest class of 32 American students who will study at the University of Oxford as Rhodes Scholars. Being named a Rhodes Scholar is considered among the highest honors that can be won by a U.S. college student.

The scholarships were created in 1902 by the will of Cecil Rhodes, an industrialist who made a vast fortune in colonial Africa. According to the will of Rhodes, applicants must have “high academic achievement, integrity of character, a spirit of unselfishness, respect for others, potential for leadership, and physical vigor.”

In 1907 Alain LeRoy Locke, later a major philosopher and literary figure of the Harlem Renaissance, was selected as a Rhodes Scholar to study at Oxford University. It is generally believed that at the time of the award the Rhodes committee did not know that Locke was Black until after he had been chosen. It would be more than 50 years later, in 1962, until another African American would be named a Rhodes Scholar.

That year, John Edgar Wideman, now a famed author as well as a professor at Brown University, was selected. Other African Americans who have won Rhodes Scholarships include Randall Kennedy of Harvard Law School, Kurt Schmoke, former mayor of Baltimore, and Franklin D. Raines, former director of the Office of Management and Budget and former CEO of Fannie Mae. In 1978, Karen Stevenson of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill was the first African-American woman selected as a Rhodes Scholar.

This year’s class of Rhodes Scholars was chosen from a pool of 877 students who were endorsed by 305 different colleges and universities. There were 207 finalists from 86 colleges and universities that were selected in 16 different geographic districts. Two students from each district were chosen as Rhodes Scholars. Students can enter the competition in the district in which they reside or the district where they attended college.

Of this year’s 32 American Rhodes Scholars, it appears that five are African Americans.

Robert A. Fisher is a senior at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga. He is majoring in political science with minors in history and Africana studies. He previously won a Truman Scholarship. Fisher is the student body president at the university and has a perfect academic record. Fisher will study for a master’s degree in comparative social policy at Oxford.

Rachel V. Harmon is from Champaign, Illinois. She is a senior at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York, where she is majoring in industrial and labor relations. Before starting her college career, Harmon was an AmeriCorps volunteer at a rural elementary school in the Mississippi Delta. She plans on studying for a master’s degree in evidence-based social policy at Oxford.

Ridwan Y. Hassen is a senior at Dartmouth College in Hanover, New Hampshire. Hassen is majoring in computer science with an emphasis on neuroscience. He began his college career at Emory University and transferred to Dartmouth after two years. He is the son of refugees from Somalia and Ethiopia. At Dartmouth, he is a member of the Endurance Racing Team. Hassen is planning to pursue a master’s degree in public policy at Oxford.

Tayo A. Sanders II is a senior at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire, where he is majoring in materials science. Sanders previously won a Goldwater Scholarship. Sanders has conducted research in the nanomaterials laboratory at the University of Strasbourg in France. Sanders is a triathlete. At Oxford, Sanders plans to earn a Ph.D. in materials science.

Sarah E. Yermina is a senior at Princeton University in New Jersey. She is majoring in sociology. During the summer of 2013, Yerima completed an intensive program in Portuguese in Rio de Janeiro. She will enroll in a two-year, master’s degree program in politics at Oxford. After studying at Oxford, Yermina plans to enter a joint J.D./Ph.D. and hopes to become a professor of law.

article via jbhe.com

Brooklyn Prosecutor Loretta Lynch to be Nominated U.S. Attorney General

President Obama on Saturday will name Loretta Lynch, the U.S. attorney in Brooklyn, to replace Atty. Gen. Eric H. Holder Jr., according to a source familiar with the process. Lynch would be the first African-American woman to serve as the nation’s top law enforcement official.  She would follow Holder, the first African-American attorney general. Holder has said he will stay on until his successor is confirmed.

Lynch, 55, is a longtime federal prosecutor who has the unusual distinction of serving in her current job twice: She was U.S. attorney for two years under President Clinton, and was disappointed that she was not reappointed by President George W. Bush. Obama reappointed her in 2010.

In contrast to other U.S. attorneys in New York, Lynch has shunned the limelight, rarely giving news conferences or interviews.

For that reason she is a relative unknown outside her district. But she came to prominence in New York in the late 1990s as the supervisor of the team that successfully prosecuted two police officers for the sexual assault with a broomstick of Haitian immigrant Abner Louima. Three other officers were acquitted.

Lynch grew up in Greensboro, N.C., the daughter of a Baptist minister and a school librarian. She graduated from Harvard College and Harvard Law School.  Lynch has solid liberal credentials, having been associated with the Legal Aid Society in New York and the Brennan Center for Justice, named for former Supreme Court Justice William J. Brennan, Jr., a liberal lion.

But she has establishment credentials as well, including serving on the board of directors of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.

Her low profile should make her potential confirmation easier than for some other candidates for the job, such as Labor Secretary Tom Perez, who drew repeated criticism from Republicans when he ran the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division.

article by Timothy M. Phelps and Michael A. Memoli via latimes.com

Harvard Law Student Cortlan Wickliff Graduates at 22

Cortlan Wickliff says he wants to own and operate a medical device company.

CAMBRIDGE — On a recent Wednesday afternoon, 22-year-old Cortlan Wickliff walks into a pizzeria looking every bit the college student, with headphones, braces, and slightly overgrown hair. Finals are over, and there’s not much to do but have dinner with friends and watch movies, lots of movies, until graduation.

Oh, and start studying for the bar exam. When Wickliff dons his cap and gown, regalia his mother had to remind him to order, the Texas native will be one of the youngest African-Americans ever to graduate from Harvard Law School. Wickliff was 19 when he graduated from Houston’s Rice University with a degree in bio­engineering in 2010. That fall he started law school, but said the age gap with his classmates, about five to six years, was not the biggest issue.

“Being at a school where there aren’t any right answers when you have been in engineering or sciences classes, that’s a bit of a change,” he said with a shrug. “School was different because of my engineering background, being from the South, being from Texas, rather than different because of my age.”

There is no age requirement for admission to Harvard Law; school administrators said the average age in the graduating Class of 2013 is 27. Students need strong test scores and grades. But more than anything, they must show an aptitude for advocating a point of view, something proven through work experience, extra­curricular activities, volunteering, leadership positions.

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