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, was published in 2022.

Deborah Ramirez
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.

Managing Director

Dr. Deborah A. Jackson 
Managing Director
Southern New Hampshire University, MA and PhD
Rutgers The State University of New Jersey-School of Law, JD Rutgers The State University of New Jersey-Graduate School, MA
Princeton University, AB
Phone: 617.373.4066

Dr. Deborah A. Jackson joined Northeastern Law’s Center for Law, Equity and Race (CLEAR) as managing director in May, 2022, and brings rich and varied experience to her new role. She served for eight years as the Mayor of Lithonia, Georgia, from 2012 to 2020. She previously served as city attorney and later as a council member. She was also active in the environmental justice effort to stop the building of a biomass gasification plant in the area and served as an advisor to Citizens for a Healthy and Safe Environment (CHASE) prior to becoming mayor. She was named in the 2014 Who’s Who in Black Atlanta Section on Environmental and Sustainability. During her tenure as mayor, she established a variety of partnerships to produce results for the community, including converting a dilapidated strip mall to a $12 million 75-unit housing project; renovating a foreclosed property for use as City Hall; establishing the Lithonia Farmers Market to address the issue of food insecurity in the area; completing an award-winning housing inventory with the Atlanta Regional Commission; and preparing a concept plan for the redevelopment of the historic African American Community corridor known as Bruce Street.

Jackson’s leadership as an elected official resulted in her appointment to a variety of boards and councils, including the Atlanta Regional Commission (ARC) and its Subcommittee on Poverty. Jackson served as president of the DeKalb Municipal Association, representing the cities within DeKalb County; and is a graduate of Leadership DeKalb and the ARC’s Regional Leadership Institute.

After serving two full terms as mayor, Jackson decided to use her experience and skills and become a candidate for the U.S. Senate in the Georgia November 2020 special election. She finished in second place among the Democratic candidates and placed fourth in a field of 22 candidates, garnering more than 300,000 votes state-wide.

In addition to service as an elected official, Jackson has over 30 years of experience as an attorney. Her areas of practice include municipal and community development law. She has practiced law in Georgia, New York, New Jersey and Mississippi. Her community activities include the National Council of Negro Women-DeKalb section (Chair, Political Empowerment/Voter Registration Committee), NAACP DeKalb branch (member of Political Action Committee), and Georgia Association of Black Women Attorneys (GABWA). She is the founding president of DeKalb Lawyers Association Community and Education Fund, a 501 (c)(3) organization supporting the DeKalb Lawyers Association, and the CrossRoadsNews Foundation, which provides scholarships to DeKalb County high school students pursuing a degree in the field of communications. Jackson is also a member of the Arabia Mountain Heritage Area Alliance board, which is responsible for the management of 2,550 acres of a nature preserve and 30 miles of walking and biking trails. Jackson’s other experiences in the nonprofit sector, include serving as national director of the National Conference of Black Lawyers.

Communications Specialist

Catherine McGloin

Program Coordinator

Charlotte Nelson
Phone: 617.373.2477

Elizabeth Zitrin Justice Fellows

Malcolm Clarke
Howard University, BS 2016
Georgetown University Law Center, JD 2022

Olivia Strange
Sweet Briar College, BA 2015
Boston University School of Law, JD 2021