Dear Friends of CRRJ, 

In these recent months CRRJ has enjoyed extraordinary growth in its programs and audience. In our archive we’ve expanded our collection of government records and added maps and other explanatory information. 

We’ve worked closely with colleagues at the Rosenberg College of Law at the University of Kentucky to investigate that state’s cold Jim Crow-era cases, and at the Southern University Law Center to pursue Louisiana cases. 

Professor Margaret Burnham, CRRJ Director and co-founder of the Burnham-Nobles Digital Archive.

Here at Northeastern, our students are pursuing investigations of Jim Crow-era police departments, and our Racial Redress and Reparations Lab is assisting public officials across the country to develop their programs.  

In the coming year, we’ll continue to investigate cases, work with students, families and communities, and build the archive. We will also expand programming in new directions. With our students, we will pursue historical convictions where posthumous exoneration is called for. As well, we are working on a national initiative to redress the harms experienced by the families of historical homicidal racial violence. 

We appreciate your support, feedback, and engagement as we look forward to 2024.

With best wishes,

CRRJ Director and founder, Professor Margaret Burnham

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Featured Case

Above: John C. Jones' body was discovered in in Dorcheat Creek, Webster Parish, LA. This image was part of the collection sent the the National museum of African american History and Culture. Photo courtesy of the Burnham-Nobles Digital Archive.

The past refuses to stay past: the lynching of John C. Jones

The summer of 1946 was filled with a heightened fear of violence and injustice for the Black residents of Minden, Webster Parish, Louisiana.

On July 30, Mrs. Sam Maddry Jr., alone at home that evening, was disturbed by what she thought was a prowler in her yard. Upon his return from work, her husband and father-in-law mounted a search for the man believed to have been peering into the Maddry home.

They spotted 19-year-old Albert Harris Jr. who was close by and swiftly placed him in jail. The teenager was eventually released along Highway 90, chased into nearby woodland and beaten by a group of white men, including the Maddrys. During this beating, Harris “confessed” that his cousin, John C. Jones, had been the one prowling that night. The mob released Harris, only to recapture him and his cousin Jones a few days later. 

Once again in Webster Parish Jail, Harris, this time joined by Jones, was held and eventually, on August 8, released by the sheriff. Two carloads of men, waiting outside the jail, kidnapped Harris and Jones and took them to a nearby bayou. The cousins were beaten – separately in each car – and left for dead. Upon regaining consciousness, Harris scooped up his cousin’s body, limp but still breathing. He gave Jones a sip of water, but his injuries were too severe. Jones passed away fifteen minutes later in the arms of his teenage cousin.

The Department of Justice pursued a criminal jury trial against the assailants of this brutal lynching, but the men accused were acquitted.  

Jones, an oil refinery worker and a recently returned World War II veteran, had survived the Battle of the Bulge only to be killed on home soil. No evidence was ever found that he was in Maddry’s neighborhood on the night he was suspected of prowling. 

But Jones’ story does not end in 1946.

In the fall of 2011, Brett Watson (’12) was assigned the Jones case to investigate as part of his clinic work with the Civil Rights and Restorative Justice Project at Northeastern University School of Law.  

Read About Jones' Case

Updates at CRRJ and in the Field

Panel: The Future of Affirmative Action

With the support of CRRJ, Northeastern Law’s Center for Law, Equity and Race hosted a panel discussion on July 6, to examine the impact of the Supreme Court’s decision that race-based admissions at Harvard University and the University of North Carolina were unlawful, essentially ending affirmative action in higher education.

Above, clockwise from top left: CLEAR Director, Dr. Deborah Jackson, Professor Libby Adler, Professor Jeremy Paul and Karl Reid, Senior Vice Provost and Chief Inclusion Officer, Office of the Provost, Northeastern University, via Zoom.

Watch the Event Recording

Above: Professor Margaret Burnham and her latest book By Hands Now Known: Jim Crow's Legal Executioners.

CRRJ Director Burnham interviewed by Boston Review

CRRJ Director Margaret Burnham was interviewed by Jeanne Theoharis of the Boston Review, July 2023.

Burnham spoke about her book, "By Hands Now Known: Jim Crow's Legal Executioners," and the ways in which Black people challenged and documented racist violence during the Jim Crow era.

Read More

1944 CRRJ case to be taught in North Carolina public schools

The case of Pvt. Booker T. Spicely, murdered on July 8, 1944, after refusing to give up his seat on a bus in Durham, North Carolina, is to be taught to students K though 12 in the state’s public schools.

This fall, a public school lesson plan incorporating the story of Booker T. Spicely, was released. This is the first time that a case investigated by CRRJ has directly led to the creation of a case-specific syllabus.

clinic student at the Civil Rights and Restorative Justice Project, Shaneka Louise Davis, first investigated Spicely’s case in 2014.

Above: Pvt. Booker T. Spicely was killed by a bus driver for allegedly refusing to move to the back of a bus in

Read More

Thurgood Marshall Letters Reveal Importance of Grassroots Activism

It is unsurprising that Thurgood Marshall, pioneering civil-rights attorney, head of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People’s (NAACP) Legal Defense Fund (LDF), and Supreme Court justice, is best known for his legislative and courtroom advocacy.

The following letters, housed in the Burnham-Nobles Digital Archive, however, reveal much about Marshall’s integrated approach to advocacy, giving precedence to collective action and grassroots organizing. 

Read About the Letters

Above: Thurgood Marshall's letters, housed in the Burnham-Nobles Archive, reveals more about his personal brand of activism and mode of organizing.

Above: Hollis Watkins, who served as an  advisor to the CRRJ Project for many years.

Hollis Watkins, Activist and Advisor, Honored by CRRJ

On September 20, 2023, Hollis Watkins, CRRJ advisor, voting rights activist and key figure in the 1960s Civil Rights Movement, made his final march up to freedom land. He passed away at home, aged 82. 

Read our Tribute

CRRJ Attorney Presents at Southern Clinical Conference 2023

On October 21, CRRJ attorney and Zitrin Fellow, Olivia Strange presented at this year’s Southern Clinical Conference in Atlanta.

Hosted by Georgia State University College of Law, the conference ran October 20-22 and was titled Good Trouble, Necessary Trouble: Opportunities and Challenges for Clinics and Externships in the South. Organizers brought together clinical faculty from across the country to discuss explore the diverse ways clinical faculty can create “good trouble.”

Above: CRRJ attorney and Zitrin Fellow, Olivia Strange and D'lorah Hughes presented at The Southern Clinical Conference in Atlanta. Photo courtesy of Strange.

Strange presented with D’lorah Hughes, of the University of Kentucky’s College of Law, and Ada Goodly Lampkin, of the Southern University Law Center. Together, they delivered a discussion titled Creating a Clinic Based on Historical Violence: The Implications of Place. They explored how historical clinical pedagogy can be used to tackle the ongoing harm of unaddressed historical violence, emphasizing that historical justice calls for creative approaches to redress that often transcend our legal systems.

Read More

Above: Margaret Burnham (bottom, middle) was one of six award winners, honoring Black writers in all categories from fiction to poetry. Professor Burnham won the prize for historical nonfiction.

By Hands Now Known wins book award

CRRJ Director Professor Margaret Burnham has won The Hurston/Wright Legacy Award, for her latest book, By Hands Now Known: Jim Crow’s Legal Executioners. She received the award at a ceremony in Washington D.C. hosted by the Zora Neale Hurston-Richard Wright Foundation.

Read More


George Weekes and the Caribbean Radical Tradition: A Labor Narrative and Lessons for Today’s Labor Movement in the US

A presentation by Dr. Godfrey Vincent, associate professor of history at Wilberforce University, on the historic struggle of workers in the Caribbean and its relevance for today’s US labor movement.

Date: Nov. 17, 2023

Time: 12:30 – 2:00 PM (EST)

Venue: 240 Dockser Hall | Zoom (hybrid event)



Book talk: Professor Kellie Jackson-Carter, We Refuse: A Forceful History of Black Resistance to White Supremacy

A reading by Kellie Carter Jackson, Historian-in-Residence for Boston's Museum of African American History and is commissioner for the Massachusetts Historical Commission, from her latest book.

Date: Feb. 22, 2023

Time: TBC

Venue: TBC

Save the date

Pfc. Booker T. Spicely Historical Marker Unveiling & Dedication: with remarks from CRRJ Director, Professor Margaret Burnham

Date: Dec. 1, 2023

Time: 3 – 6 PM (EST)

Venue: NC School of Science & Math


CRRJ Spotlight

Spotlight on: Ada Goodly Lampkin

Ada Goodly Lampkin understands the value of truth and the power of imagination.

“There was a lot unsaid in my family,” said Goodly Lampkin, director of the Louis A. Berry Institute for Civil Rights and Justice at Southern University Law Center. 

Born in Lake Charles, Louisiana, "in my deeply Creole family it was bad to tell a secret, bad to use the truth," she told CRRJ in a recent interview. 

It was her grandmother who taught Goodly Lampkin, a partner with the Civil Rights and Restorative Justice Project for almost a decade, how the truth can heal. 

Above: Ada Goodly Lampkin spoke to CRRJ about her career as a movement lawyer and teacher.

"My grandmother, herself the product of racial violence and raised to believe her mother was her sister … was a person that was deeply impacted by racism. But, because she presented as a white woman, she took an extra step to make sure that whatever privilege she had she used to benefit people who weren’t as privileged," said Goodly Lampkin. "I saw that from a very early age growing up. That drove me to be a person that looked out for ways to assert my privilege as a light-skinned Black person. I understood whatever privilege I possessed also came with great responsibility." 

It was during her time at Louisiana State University that Goodly Lampkin said her consciousness of Black communities’ struggles and needs fully matured. She became the president of LSU’s Black student union. This is when she said she realized "I could be a voice for my community."

Read the Interview

We Are Hiring

Elizabeth Zitrin Fellow

CRRJ seeks a community activist/organizer to build a project based on the Burnham-Nobles Digital Archive; design, manage, and execute CRRJ’s community-based programs; promote strong collaborative relations with CRRJ’s non-academic partner organizations; and engage in other activities to support its restorative justice work. This is a full-time, in residence position.

Apply Now

Community Leadership Fellow

CRRJ seeks a community activist/organizer to build a project based on the Burnham-Nobles Digital Archive; design, manage, and execute CRRJ’s community-based programs; promote strong collaborative relations with CRRJ’s non-academic partner organizations; and engage in other activities to support its restorative justice work. This is a full-time, in residence position.

Apply Now

Staff Attorney

CRRJ seeks a staff attorney to direct the legal programs of its Racial Redress and Reparations Lab, teach in its clinical program, and litigate cases. Reporting to Professor Margaret Burnham, the successful candidate will have subject matter experience in civil rights law; human rights law criminal justice or a related field; and broad knowledge of US civil rights history. The successful candidate will have experience working as an attorney in the litigation or policy arena, or in legal education.

The staff attorney serves as the lead on the Lab team, directing law students, legal fellows (lawyers), and other staff in the design and execution of projects of racial redress for legal wrongs in the US. They may teach clinical law courses; lead legal research projects; engage in litigation and policy advocacy; develop programs and projects for the law school community in CRRJ’s areas of expertise; manage CRRJ’s relationships in the academic and legal community including litigation partners in national law firms; create training material and policy guidelines; and collaborate closely with affected communities, public officials, and social justice organizations.

This is a full-time benefits-eligible position based at Northeastern University in Boston, MA.

Apply Now

Senior Staff Attorney

CRRJ is seeking a Senior Staff Attorney with litigation experience to lead the development of its project on historical injustice and the US criminal legal system. The program is dedicated to legal advocacy on behalf of defendants wrongly executed in the mid-twentieth century. The Senior Staff Attorney will have broad civil rights or criminal justice experience; excellent legal research, analytical and writing skills; and, preferably, complex litigation experience in a range of forums.

The Senior Staff Attorney serves as the lead on a team supporting the mission of CRRJ by generating and sustaining a docket of cases; conducting investigations and pursuing remedies, including advocacy in courts and agencies; engaging with communities affected by historical injustice in the US criminal legal system; and supervising law students. The Senior Staff Attorney will actively develop and manage litigation and collaborate with partner law firms and community stakeholders, support strategic policy advocacy with broad coalitions in legal and academic communities, and engage in community outreach across the United States. The Senior Staff Attorney will supervise students and one or more legal fellows. Additionally, the Senior Staff Attorney may have the opportunity to teach in a clinical setting. The Senior Staff Attorney will advance CRRJ’s visibility; represent CRRJ at meetings and conferences; participate in development activities, and help maintain strong staff relationships.

Apply Now

Burnham-Nobles Digital Archive releases interactive map of Jim Crow era violence

In November 2023, the Civil Rights and Restorative Justice Project's archival team released a new map feature in the Burnham-Nobles Digital Archive.Months in the making by CRRJ's dedicated archivists, historians, designers and developers, this interactive map is a visualization of racialized violence in the southern United States between 1930 and 1954.

Read More

​​Redressing Historical Racial Injustices: A Toolkit for Policymakers​​ and Advocates

This toolkit introduces readers to a range of policy approaches to remediating historical racial injustices, including racial violence, subordination, and other forms of discriminatory policies and practices. In some cases, legislation may be appropriate to address a discrete event, such as a commission created to study a specific massacre and provide remedies to survivors and descendants. Other initiatives may aim to address a broader historical period or pattern of events – for example, a commission to study a state’s history of lynching or a task force to develop proposals for reparations for descendants of slavery. This toolkit serves as a resource to help state and local policymakers, staff, and advocates understand why such remedies are needed, what forms they may take, and what policies other states and localities have adopted to address historical injustices.

Request the toolkit

Launched in 2007 by University Distinguished Professor Margaret Burnham, the center of CRRJ’s work is the investigation of racially motivated homicides in the Jim Crow South, and the creation of the Burnham-Nobles Digital Archive, which contains more than 1,000 cases. In 2022, CRRJ became a program of the Law School's Center for Law, Equity and Race. 

Support CRRJ

We rely on donors like you to continue our work. Donations are used for litigation expenses, field research and restorative justice projects. With your help, we can continue training tomorrow’s civil rights lawyers, filling in the gaps in U.S. history and informing our national dialogue on racial redress and criminal justice.