In a year of great social and political turmoil, a young Black man from Hattiesburg, Mississippi, has made history at Harvard University. Noah Harris, a 20-year-old junior majoring in government, has been elected as the student body president, becoming the first Black man to be elected by the entire student body. This achievement comes at a time of racial reckoning in the United States following the deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Ahmaud Arbery and the subsequent protests across the country.
Harris’s election is a significant statement by the Harvard student body, a sign of his peers’ confidence in him. He follows in the footsteps of two other Black students who have headed Harvard’s Undergraduate Council, including Fentrice Driskell, who became the first Black woman elected in 1999. Harris’s election is a significant milestone, not only for Harvard but for the entire nation. It is a reminder that progress is possible, even in the face of adversity.
Harris’s election is particularly noteworthy given the historical context of his home state. The same month he was elected, Mississippi voters overwhelmingly chose to replace their state flag, which had long featured a Confederate emblem. Harris’s success as a Black man from Mississippi sends a powerful message about the possibility of change and progress, even in the face of entrenched racism and discrimination.
This achievement is not just a personal triumph but a responsibility for Harris. As he acknowledges, he does not take this responsibility lightly. His election symbolizes hope and possibility for Black students at Harvard and young people across the country fighting for social justice and equality. Harris’s election shows that progress is possible, even in the face of extraordinary challenges.