Lila Fenwick, First Black Female Graduate of Harvard Law School, Dies at 87
Photo Credit: Summer 2003 Bulletin, Disc 2 of 4 104235 via Harvard Law School

Lila Fenwick, First Black Female Graduate of Harvard Law School, Dies at 87

Lila Fenwick, the first Black female graduate of Harvard Law School, died on Saturday, April 4. She was in her home in Manhattan and was a victim of the novel coronavirus.

According to the New York Times, the daughter of Trinidadian immigrants, born on May 24, 1932, was a trailblazer for the majority of her life. In 1956, she was one of only a few women to graduate from Harvard Law School. While enrolled, the New York native endured extreme racism and sexism.

“I knew I was going to be a lawyer when I was a little girl,” Fenwick told the Harvard Law Bulletin in 2000. “It never occurred to me that there were going to be any obstacles.”

After law school, she attended the London School of Economics and went on to have a life-long career at the United Nations. She went on to become an official in the Division of Human Rights, specializing in gender, racial and discrimination studies. In addition, she established the Foundation for Research and Education in Sickle Cell Disease with Dr. Doris Wethers and Dr. Yvette Fay Francis-McBarnette.

Fenwick was battling dementia prior to succumbing to complications associated with COVID-19.