Harvard students elect Black man as Undergraduate Council president for first time
© CBS Boston

For the first time in more than three centuries, students at Harvard have elected a Black man as president of the Undergraduate Council. 

Noah Harris, 20, who is a junior at the school majoring in government, won election earlier this month, according to the Hattiesburg American

In an interview with the local paper, Harris, who hails from Hattiesburg, Miss., called the move by the student body “a major statement.” 

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“I definitely don’t take that lightly,” Harris told the paper. “Especially with everything that went on this summer with the death of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor and Ahmaud Arbery, all the protests that went on in this moment of racial reckoning in this country.”

“This is a major statement by the Harvard student body to entrust a Black man with such an unprecedented moment in its history,” Harris, who is also co-chair of the Undergraduate Council’s Black Caucus at the school, continued. 

Harris told the local outlet he wants to work to promote unity on campus. 

“Harvard’s community specifically, it’s very diverse but it’s kind of diverse in that it has its own separate communities. A lot of what we’re trying to do is we’re trying to bring communities together,” he told the news outlet.

He and his vice president, Jenny Gan, a neuroscience major, also pushed for diversity and inclusion during their campaign and promoted bettering mental and physical health on campus.

As for his plans post-graduation, Harris told the outlet he wants to become an attorney and intends to go to Harvard Law School in the coming years.

“I really think that’s an amazing profession for being able to stand up for people and give them a voice,” he told the paper. 

“My parents have always taught me to use my voice and to use my platform, and to take the mic and to be able to speak up for people who needed it most, and I really see my love for government and law coming together in that way to be able to give people a voice in the courtroom, and I think that my gifts and my talents would be very well served there,” he added.

--Updated on Nov. 24 at 6:13 a.m.