Congratulations are in order to Howard University student Abigail Hall! She has recently gone viral after tweeting a monumental accomplishment: she was accepted into Harvard Law School! Since sharing her great news, she’s struggled to respond to each of the thousands of people outpouring their messages of support. Learn more about Hall, why Kamala Harris has inspired her, and the impact of her own membership in AKA from a recent interview she had with Stephanie Koury at Jamaicans.com.
Jamaican-American, Abigail Hall, 21, a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority at Howard University, the oldest Black sorority in the United States, has been accepted to the prestigious Harvard Law School. Hall is from Atlanta, Georgia, and graduated from Howard University after completing her studies in Political Science. Hall interned in Washington, DC, for several consecutive academic semesters, gaining experience as a political scientist working with civic and social organizations in the areas of public policy and service, government affairs, and legal enterprise.
“It has been extremely humbling to receive congratulations and well-wishes from all around the world. This moment and every message reaffirms my purpose and substantiates the sacrifices that I have made up to this point. I would be remiss if I did not thank my mom, Donna Denton Hall, for exemplifying the strength and faith necessary to achieve (and sustain) greatness. As a first-generation American citizen, I understand the privilege and responsibility that comes with the honor of a Harvard Law degree. I intend to use this opportunity to advocate on behalf of the marginalized and advance the cause of justice worldwide.” said Hall to Jamaicans.com.
Abigail chooses Harvard after been accepted by over 15 other Law Schools: Columbia Law School, University of Pennsylvania Carey Law School, Georgetown University Law Center, Cornell Law School, University of Chicago, Law School, University of Virginia School of Law, Vanderbilt Law School, Duke Law School, Notre Dame Law School, The George Washington University Law School, Emory Law School, Howard University School of Law, Temple University–James E. Beasley School of Law, University of Miami School of Law, Fordham University School of Law, Tulane University Law School.
The inauguration of Kamala Harris to serve as the first woman of color to be Vice President of the United States, was an inspiration to Hall and her sister members of Alpha Kappa Alpha, as Harris herself was pledged to the sorority in 1986. Hall and the other members of the “Alpha Chapter,” the organization’s founding society, are very aware of the impact the rise of Harris to high office is having on young Black women.
For Hall, the ascent of Harris has been “life-changing.” Hall noted that, as a Black woman, it is not “a familiar feeling” to see someone like herself in a position of power at the highest level. She added that it was very powerful for her, a person who wants to be a “glass-ceiling breaker” and a Black woman who wants to be the first to do something, to have Harris as a role model.
KA has a long history of seeing its members go on to become highly successful and influential in society. The sorority’s alumni include Toni Morrison, Nobel Prize-winning author; Phylicia Rashad and Roxie Roker, actresses; tennis icon Althea Gibson; Sharon Pratt, the first Black mayor of a large city; and many civil rights advocates, writers, musicians, and journalists.
In addition to following in the footsteps of successful Howard AKA alumni, Hall will become part of Harvard Law School’s legacy of trailblazing African American graduates. The first Black graduates of Harvard Law School – George Lewis Ruffin in 1869, Archibald Grimke in 1874, Clement Morgan in 1893, and William Henry Lewis in 1895 – attended the school shortly after the Emancipation Proclamation and went on to become accomplished lawyers and social activists.
Harvard Law School first admitted women in 1950, and in 1953, Lila Fenwick was accepted as a student and in 1956 became the school’s first Black woman graduate. She ultimately became the chief of the Human Rights Division at the United Nations. Derrick Bell became the first tenured Black professor at Harvard Law in 1971 and gave up his position as a professor in 1992 in protest of the school’s hiring practices, notably the lack of women of color in its faculty. In 1998, Lani Guinier, who had headed the voting rights project for the Legal Defense Fund of the NAACP, became the first Black woman to be a tenured professor at Harvard Law School.
Charles Hamilton Houston, who is considered the creator of the legal strategy that underpins the modern civil rights movement, was the first Black person to be a member of the Harvard Law Review. In 1990, former United States President Barack Obama, who graduated from Harvard Law in 1991, was the first Black man to be elected president of the Harvard Law Review. In 2017, Imelme Umana, who graduated in 2018, became the first Black woman to serve as its president.