A black woman will lead Harvard University’s prestigious student newspaper for the first time since it was founded in 1873.
Kristine E. Guillaume, 20, made history as the newly elected president of The Harvard Crimson. Her upcoming post has made headlines since it was announced earlier this month and comes amid increased media scrutiny over the way black female reporters are treated – particularly by President Donald Trump.
The Harvard junior, majoring in history, literature and African-American studies, says she is proud to have been named the first female black president of The Crimson. She hopes her new position will help encourage other people of color who are “navigating institutionally white and male spaces.”
“I think this is a time when it’s important for people of color, especially women of color, to speak out about the challenges of navigating institutionally white and male spaces,” she told HuffPost via email.
“I feel really lucky to be taking on The Crimson at this time and to show other people of color you are not the only one — because so often you are the only one,” she added.
Guillaume, from Queens, New York, said prior to Harvard, she was heavily involved with the student newspaper at her high school and eventually worked her way up to becoming the editor-in-chief of its literary magazine.
She had her sights set on attending Harvard, and The Crimson had been a “major part of that ambition,” she said.
Born to a Chinese mother and Haitian father, both immigrants and physicians, Guillaume said her parents instilled in her the importance of knowing what’s going on around the world outside of her “own personal bubble.”
The 20-year-old has served as one of the chairs for The Crimson’s Diversity and Inclusivity committee, aimed at making the newspaper more welcoming to students from all backgrounds, The Crimson reported.
“Kristine’s previous work with the Diversity and Inclusivity Committee has demonstrated her commitment and dedication to ensuring our editors — regardless of identity or background — find a home at 14 Plympton St,” said the paper’s current president Derek Xiao in an interview with the Boston Globe earlier this month.
Xiao also commended Guillaume’s goals to build the paper’s “digital storytelling” and her business plans to “scale the organization’s alternative revenue streams” to secure financial stability.
As The Globe reported, Guillaume’s work as a reporter for The Crimson includes an article published earlier this year about black women leading four Harvard schools for the first time.
Lack of representation of women of color continues to plague professional newsrooms across the U.S.
Guillaume addressed the importance of boosting representation within The Crimson and how that relates to its core mission.
“Representation in leadership means more than just having diversity though — it means that we have expertise and perspectives from a wide range of experiences,” she told HuffPost via e-mail. “That bolsters our ability to be more representative in our staff and the coverage of our campus, which is core to our mission.”
“I’m definitely proud to be a part of making the Crimson a more welcoming place for people of color, especially young black women and women of color,” Guillaume added. “If my election to the presidency helps to affirm someone’s sense of belonging on campus and at The Crimson, then my hard work will be worth it and continue to be worth it over the course of my tenure.”