Margaret A. Burnham
University Distinguished Professor of Law and Director, Civil Rights and Restorative Justice Project
Tougaloo College, BA 1966
University of Pennsylvania, LLB 1969
Professor Burnham joined the Northeastern University School of Law faculty in 2002. Her fields of expertise are civil and human rights, comparative constitutional rights, and international criminal law. Professor Burnham founded and directs the School of Law’s Civil Rights and Restorative Justice Project (CRRJ), which investigates racial violence in the Jim Crow era and other historical failures of the criminal justice system. CRRJ serves as a resource for scholars, policymakers and organizers involved in various initiatives seeking justice for these crimes. Among her impressive accomplishments, Professor Burnham headed a team of outside counsel and law students in a landmark case that settled a federal lawsuit. Professor Burnham’s team accused Franklin County Mississippi law enforcement officials of assisting Klansmen in the kidnapping, torture and murder of two 19-year-olds, Henry Dee and Charles Eddie Moore. CRRJ’s investigations are widely covered in the national press, including a PBS Frontline documentary series, “Un(re)solved.”
Professor Burnham began her career at the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund. In the 1970s, she represented civil rights and political activists. In 1977, she became the first African American woman to serve in the Massachusetts judiciary, when she joined the Boston Municipal Court bench as an associate justice. In 1982, she became partner in a Boston civil rights firm with an international human rights practice. In 1993, South African president Nelson Mandela appointed Professor Burnham to serve on an international human rights commission to investigate alleged human rights violations within the African National Congress. The commission was a precursor to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.
A former fellow of the Bunting Institute at Radcliffe College and Harvard University's W.E.B. DuBois Institute for Afro-American Studies, Professor Burnham has written extensively on contemporary legal and political issues. In 2016, Professor Burnham was selected for the competitive and prestigious Carnegie Fellows Program. Provided to just 33 recipients nationwide that year, the fellowship provides the “country’s most creative thinkers with grants of up to $200,000 each to support research on challenges to democracy and international order.” Professor Burnham used the funding to deepen and extend CRRJ’s work and research dedicated to seeking justice for crimes of the civil rights era.
Professor Burnham’s book, By Hands Now Known: Jim Crow’s Legal Executioners, will be published in 2022.
Professor of Law and Chair, Criminal Justice Task Force
Northwestern University, BA 1977
Harvard University, JD 1981
Deborah Ramirez is a criminal justice expert and a long-time advocate for policy changes in the criminal justice system. She teaches criminal justice for first year students, along with advanced courses in criminal procedure and post-9/11 civil rights vis-à-vis counter-terrorism. She also seeks to actively engage the student body in topics relating to criminal law in additional projects, including assistance to Northeastern’s Criminal Justice Society, along with presentations on extradition in conjunction with Northeastern’s first-year social justice projects in the Legal Skills in Social Context program. Beyond this, she works extensively with Northeastern’s Latin American Law Students Association (LALSA). Professor Ramirez frequently works with academia, law enforcement, and community leaders in the US and Europe to implement community-partnership based counter-terrorism programs. Her belief is that we will only truly be safe from terrorist attacks when law enforcement adopts a strategy focused on building trust and strengthening relationships with the American Muslim, Arab and Sikh communities. Her written work includes a “Promising Practices Guide” on how to develop partnerships between law enforcement and these communities.