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Harvard Law Review Breaks Barriers with Second Black Woman President in 137-Year History.



In a monumental achievement, the Harvard Law Review has elected its second-ever Black woman president in its 137-year existence. This historic moment comes as the prestigious law journal chooses a driven Virginian whose expertise lies in studying racial and class inequality within the legal system.

Sophia Hunt, a 26-year-old student at Harvard Law School, expressed her enthusiasm for criminal defence work and her dedication to addressing racial justice issues. Her academic pursuits have been deeply influenced by the racial justice movement sparked by the high-profile killings of Black individuals by police in the past years. Hunt credits her initial curiosity about mass incarceration to events such as the 2014 killing of Michael Brown, an African-American teenager, by a white police officer in Ferguson, Missouri. These experiences shaped her political and social awareness during her formative years.

Harvard Law Review breaks barrier with election of First black woman as president.

Law reviews, which consist of top students from U.S. law schools, often pave the way for prestigious careers in the legal profession, including judicial clerkships. Renowned legal and political figures, such as former President Barack Obama, have occupied positions at the Harvard Law Review, with Obama becoming the first Black president of the journal in 1990. Additionally, three current members of the U.S. Supreme Court have served as editors.

While the first female president of the Harvard Law Review was elected in 1977 (Susan Estrich), it was not until 2017 that the first Black woman, ImeIme Umana, assumed the role. With Hunt’s recent appointment, she follows in the footsteps of Apsara Iyer, the first Indian-American woman elected to lead the Law Review.

In recent times, the Harvard Law Review has faced campus tensions concerning the Israel-Hamas conflict. One incident involved an editor, who was acting as a safety marshal at a pro-Palestinian demonstration, being publicly identified online after appearing in a viral video where protesters confronted a Jewish student. Furthermore, there was criticism from within the Law Review when a majority of editors decided not to publish a blog post by a Palestinian scholar describing the conflict in Gaza as a genocide. The article was eventually published by The Nation.

In response to these incidents, Hunt emphasized her commitment to utilizing the diversity and broad backgrounds of the Law Review’s editors to address neglected topics and foster meaningful discussions.

Harvard Law Review elects second Black woman president in 137 years 

Before entering Harvard Law School, Sophia Hunt earned a degree in history and literature from Harvard University in 2019. She then pursued a sociology PhD at Stanford University, focusing on race and class disparities within the criminal legal system. Her passion for advocating for others and engaging with those affected by the carceral state prompted her decision to take a leave from Stanford and pursue a law degree from Harvard.

Hunt’s future plans involve working in public criminal defence and potentially pursuing an academic career, which aligns with her family’s passion for academia—her mother is a business administration professor at the University of Virginia. Notably, Hunt’s legal journey has included a clerkship with the federal public defender office in Washington, D.C., and she is poised to work with the Brooklyn Defender Services, a public defence office in New York, during the upcoming summer.

In electing Sophia Hunt as president, Harvard Law Review took another significant step forward in diversifying its leadership. It continues to recognize the outstanding achievements of Black women within the legal field.

Harvard Law Review elects second Black woman president in 137 years
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Harvard Law Review Breaks Barriers with Second Black Woman President in 137-Year History.

Harvard Law Review Breaks Barriers with Second Black Woman President in 137-Year History.

Harvard Law Review Breaks Barriers with Second Black Woman President in 137-Year History.

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