After 384 years, Harvard University has finally elected its first Black student body president. In a move toward more diversity at the Ivy League school, Mississippi native Noah Harris is the history-making student body president and his vice president will be Jenny Gan, who is Asian-American.
“Me being a Black man from Mississippi is not something that I run from,” Harris, 20, told CBS Boston. “It was a historic election and for it to come in a year of so many racial injustices with George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and people who were taken from our communities, it makes it that much more of a statement on the part of Harvard and the student body.”
Harvard did not admit any Black students until Beverly Garnett Williams in 1847 but she died of tuberculosis before she could attend. Harvard’s next Black student did not arrive until Richard Theodore Greener in 1870.
The school’s undergraduate student body is now 7.8 percent African American, 17.8 percent Asian-American, and 11.5 percent Hispanic, according to Collegefactual.com. Harris says the election of more diverse leadership in its student government shows the direction the school’s population is going.
“It’s a message to the university that we really have to be conscious about the decisions that we’re making and how we’re standing with all of our students of color and making sure that their college experience and just their livelihoods are as good as possible when a university like Harvard has so many resources.”