African American History | First Black Elected to Head Harvard’s Law Review

Columbia University graduate and Harvard University law student Barack Obama became the first African American named president of the Harvard Law ReviewThe Harvard Law Review, generally considered the most prestigious in the country, elected the first black president in its 104-year history today. The job is considered the highest student position at Harvard Law School.

The new president of the Review is Barack Obama, a 28-year-old graduate of Columbia University who spent four years heading a community development program for poor blacks on Chicago’s South Side before enrolling in law school. His late father, Barack Obama, was a finance minister in Kenya and his mother, Ann Dunham, is an American anthropologist now doing fieldwork in Indonesia. Mr. Obama was born in Hawaii.

”The fact that I’ve been elected shows a lot of progress,” Mr. Obama said today in an interview. ”It’s encouraging.

”But it’s important that stories like mine aren’t used to say that everything is O.K. for blacks. You have to remember that for every one of me, there are hundreds or thousands of black students with at least equal talent who don’t get a chance,” he said, alluding to poverty or growing up in a drug environment.

About SouthernGirl2

A Native Texan who adores baby kittens, loves horses, rodeos, pomegranates, & collect Eagles. Enjoys politics, games shows, & dancing to all types of music. Loves discussing and learning about different cultures. A Phi Theta Kappa lifetime member with a passion for Social & Civil Justice.
This entry was posted in Barack Obama, Black History, History, Media, Open Thread, Tribute and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

25 Responses to African American History | First Black Elected to Head Harvard’s Law Review

  1. joseph tribble says:

    Very noteworthy

  2. Thomas Coleman says:

    I would like to know what’s in the future for Mr. Obama, What ever it is I know it’s going to be great cause the Lord will be with him,and he will do well.

  3. Truely Blessed says:

    I am happy to participate in the sharing of this knowledge, and imagine during my life time. I am filled with pride in knowing this remarkable man, and in disappointment that this is even note worthy today, but someone had to be first. Tha world must change.

  4. Joyce Jenkins says:

    A GREAT accomplishment, lead to an even greater accomplishment! First African American President a fete of enormous courage, a black educated man! This is Black History month! A time for recognition of many great African Americans achievement! However, to delegate the history of African Americans, and their historical contributions, cannot be delegated to a month, not just in February, its throughout the year, on a daily basis! It’s a part of an ongoing conversation about American people of a different hue!

  5. cherokee says:


    • Truely Blessed says:

      You know we are all just people. Let go of the illusion of race, then let go of the devastation of racism.

  6. The most important and influential person to be elected to the office!! A absolute pleasure to represent the views expressed by the minority of the population of the United States of America. I will always treasure the memories of President Obama and his imagination and influence on society and culture including the important impact on the other countries in the world. I want to thank you for your courage and most of all your sincere compassion for others!

    • Tina says:

      U are absolutely right!!! He was one of the most influential president’s there was in the white house. I am and will always be proud of his accomplishments and success that he has set out for himself as well as other blacks to become the next president of the United States. Thanks Barack for your 8 years of service.

  7. On today we remember for this very date 27 years ago. We had the distinctive honor of just what time can do to one if only you stay faithful, encouraged, and truly believe in yourself. Yes, sir all things are possible. Thank you sir. I can never forget, yes, we can….. Praise God for you. Amen.

  8. I would love to change the laws and bring him back as our President, if politician’s can stay in office he should also be able to, especially now.

  9. Pingback: Good bye Big Boy – Hello Barack Obama | Philippine Thoughts

  10. Pingback: BLACK HISTORY MONTH PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA | coyfeetalksitup

  11. rikyrah says:

    I remember reading about Barack Obama in Jet Magazine…..

  12. Ametia says:

    Well when you’ve got it, YOU’VE GOT IT.

    Barack Hussein Obama was destined to become POTUS. No doubts about it.


    In 1990, a 28-year-old named Barack Obama got his first brush with nationwide notoriety when he was elected president of the Harvard Law Review

    In 1990, a 28-year-old named Barack Obama got his first brush with nationwide notoriety when he was elected president of the Harvard Law Review

  14. 1988, Obama entered Harvard Law SchoolIn late 1988, Obama entered Harvard Law School. He was selected as an editor of the Harvard Law Review at the end of his first year,[36] and president of the journal in his second year.[32][37] During his summers, he returned to Chicago, where he worked as a summer associate at the law firms of Sidley Austin in 1989 and Hopkins & Sutter in 1990.[38] After graduating with a Juris Doctor (J.D.) magna cum laude[39] from Harvard in 1991, he returned to Chicago.[36] Obama’s election as the first black president of the Harvard Law Review gained national media attention[32][37] and led to a publishing contract and advance for a book about race relations,[40] which evolved into a personal memoir. The manuscript was published in mid-1995 as Dreams from My Father.[40]

  15. Feb. 6, 1990. The Harvard Law Review elected Barack Obama as the first black president in its 104-year history

    Feb. 6, 1990. The Harvard Law Review elected Barack Obama as the first black president in its 104-year history on Feb 5, 1990. The job was considered to be the highest student position at Harvard Law School. Here, Obama stands outside Austin Hall the day after the announcement. Photo by Joe Wrinn

  16. Sept. 17, 2005. The Hon. Barack H. Obama, HLS ’91, U.S. senator for Illinois, gives the keynote address, “Celebrating the Achievements of Black Alumni,” at the Harvard Law School Association Award Luncheon.

    Sept. 17, 2005. The Hon. Barack H. Obama, HLS ’91, U.S. senator for Illinois, gives the keynote address, “Celebrating the Achievements of Black Alumni,” at the Harvard Law School Association Award Luncheon. Photo by Stephanie Mitchell/Harvard Staff Photographer

  17. Activist In Chicago Now Heads Harvard Law Review
    February 07, 1990

    Just a few years ago, Barack Obama was helping residents of the Altgeld Gardens housing development challenge the Chicago Housing Authority over asbestos in their apartments.

    On Monday, the 28-year-old Obama was named president of the Harvard Law Review, the nation`s most prestigious student legal journal. Obama is the first black elected to the post in its 104-year history.

    The Review is considered one of the most authoritative of the law school reviews and is a forum for judges and scholars. It is also a high-powered springboard for aspiring lawyers. Its presidents usually go on serve as a clerk for a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for a year and then as a clerk for an associate justice of the U.S. Supreme Court.

    It took 91 years to elect a woman, and it wasn`t until last year that an Asian was elected by his fellow editors to the position.

    For Obama, it`s another victory in the fight against “powerlessness.“

    “People don`t feel that they can have much impact,“ he said in a phone interview from the Review`s offices. “I want to get people involved in having a say in how their lives are run. More and more of that needs to be done.“

    As executive director of the Developing Communities Project, he had attempted to persuade the residents of Altgeld Gardens to become more involved in their community. Obama worked for the Developing Communities Project for four years.

    “I`ll never forget the amount of feeling he showed,“ recalled Johnnie Owens, who became the group`s director when Obama left for law school in 1988. “He honestly evaluated his performance and made up his mind to do better.“

    Born in Hawaii to the late Barack Obama, once a finance minister in Kenya, and Ann Dunham, an American anthropologist, Obama went to Columbia University before moving to Chicago to work as a community organizer.

    On the Far South Side, battles were fought and won to get trees trimmed, garbage picked up and stop signs put up. Obama`s overriding goal was the empowerment of people.

    “Unbelievable talent is not cultivated; a lot of time it`s crushed,“

    Obama said. “Over the long run, the way to improve the conditions in the cities and schools-to fight crime and drugs-is to work on the local level.“

    To do that effectively, Obama said he wanted to know how the system works as only a lawyer can. To that end, he said he`ll spend a couple of years practicing law after graduation next year and then it`s most likely back to community organizing, maybe politics.

    Probably back where he started.

    “I`ll definitely be coming back to Chicago,“ he said. “Chicago`s a great town . . . an ideal laboratory.“


    In 1990, Obama became the first African American to be elected president of the Harvard Law Review in the 104 years of its history. He graduated from Harvard magna cum laude in 1991 and joined the Chicago law firm of Miner, Barnhill & Galland as a civil rights lawyer. He also taught constitutional law at the University of Chicago law school. In 1992, Obama married Michelle Robinson, whom he had met while working as a summer associate at another Chicago law firm during law school. That same year, he led a drive that registered nearly 150,000 black voters for the 1992 presidential campaign, won by Bill Clinton.

    In 1996, Obama officially launched his own political career, winning election to the Illinois State Senate as a Democrat from the South Side neighborhood of Hyde Park. Despite tight Republican control during his years in the state senate, Obama was able to build support among both Democrats and Republicans in drafting legislation on ethics and health care reform. He helped create a state earned-income tax credit that benefited the working poor, promoted subsidies for early childhood education programs and worked with law enforcement officials to require the videotaping of interrogations and confessions in all capital cases.

  19. A Law Review Breakthrough
    February 15, 1990

    A Law Review Breakthrough

    Barack Obama became the first black president of the influential Harvard Law Review last week, after a marathon 17-hour selection process that pitted him against 18 other candidates. But he says he felt the full significance of the honor only after a rival candidate, also black, embraced him.

    “He held onto me for a long time,” said Obama, 28, a second-year student at Harvard Law School. “It was an important moment for me, because with that embrace I realized my election was not about me, but it was about us, about what we could do and what we could accomplish.”

    It is entirely characteristic of Obama, a man of substantial accomplishments, that he would view his success in terms of American blacks and minorities in general rather than as a personal victory.

    He points out, for instance, that four of this year’s 19 candidates are black, and two of the nine finalists are black women. (In the first 85 years of the law journal’s 102-year history, there were only three black members.)

    “To some extent, I’m a symbolic stand-in for a lot of the changes that have been made,” said Obama, who will function as editor-in-chief of the student-run journal, which is regarded as the leading legal periodical in the country. Its presidency almost always leads to prestigious judicial clerkships after graduation.

    “I want to make people aware that although I am benefiting from a lot of attention right now, there is a broader trend: a far greater willingness at this stage of the history of the Review to appreciate the abilities and talents of minorities and women in the legal profession.”

    It is not that Obama is self-deprecating. On the contrary, he is so exceptionally self-assured and directed — as when he notes that he sought the presidency because “I felt I’d enjoy having an influence on the course of legal debate in the country” — that one friend recalls being completely overwhelmed when they met four years ago.

    “I thought, ‘This guy sounds like he’s president of the country already,’ ” said John Owens, a former co-worker from Chicago, during a telephone interview. “I’ve never met anyone who could leave that impression after only five minutes.”

    What seems to motivate Barack Obama is a strong identification with what he calls “the typical black experience,” paired with a mission to help the black community and promote social justice.

Leave a Reply