By Hands Now Known: The Civil Rights and Restorative Justice Archive

On October 7, 2022, Northeastern Law’s Civil Rights and Restorative Justice Project hosted an all-day hybrid conference to mark the launch of the CRRJ Burnham-Nobles Digital Archive. The Archive, a digital collection of more than 1,000 cases — the documentary evidence of anti-Black racial killings from 1930 to 1954 in the Jim Crow South — was made available to the general public on September 27. The conference brought together scholars, practitioners and descendants of the victims whose cases are featured in the archive. We also hailed the release of Professor Margaret Burnham’s book, By Hands Now Known: Jim Crow’s Legal Executioners.
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Video Highlights

Thursday, October 6

Pre-Conference Reception


Friday, October 7
Welcome Remarks

Margaret Burnham
Director, Civil Rights and Restorative Justice Project, and University Distinguished Professor of Law, Northeastern University School of Law
Dan Cohen
Dean of Libraries, Vice Provost for Information Collaboration, and Professor of History, Northeastern University
James Hackney
Dean, Northeastern University School of Law Deborah Jackson, Managing Director, Center for Law, Equity and Race (CLEAR), Northeastern University School of Law

Panel 2: Historical Racial Violence in the Classroom: What are We Teaching?

This panel explored three academic programs in which students investigate and gather archival material on the subject of historical violence — and what it means to teach this historical material in an experiential modality.

Rose Zoltek-Jick
Associate Director, Civil Rights and Restorative Justice Project, Northeastern University School of Law

Ada Goodly Lampkin, Director, Louis A. Berry Institute for Civil Rights and Justice, Southern University Law Center
Hank Klibanoff
Professor of Practice, English and Creative Writing, Emory College of Arts and Sciences
Katie Sandson
Program Director, Racial Redress and Reparations Lab, Civil Rights and Restorative Justice Project, Northeastern University School of Law

Archive Presentation

Panel 3: Family History, U.S. History

The experiences of descendant families are at the heart of CRRJ and the Burnham-Nobles Digital Archive. We seek to capture and to preserve family memories that might otherwise be lost to history, and to ensure that families have access to the archival documents that our investigations have unearthed. This panel explored the intergenerational effects of historical racial violence and the impact of CRRJ’s work on descendantfamilies. We consider how the Archive can foster projects of restorative justice and repair.

Bayliss Fiddiman ’13
Director of Educational Equity, National Women’s Law Center

Evan Lewis
Great-grandson of Lent Shaw; Director, Legacy Coalition
Sheila Moss Brown
Granddaughter of Henry “Peg” Gilbert
Jonique Williams
Granddaughter of Edwin C. Williams James Williams Pvt. Booker Spicely Historical Marker Working Group

Panel 4: Historical Violence, Contemporary Inequality and Future Advocacy

Our understanding of historical racial violence in the American South during the Jim Crow era is vastly affected by what the Burnham-Nobles Digital Archive reveals, but the cases therein also offer a window into contemporary conflicts and enduring inequities. While it is indisputable that past violence resonates long after the underlying events have transpired, researchers continue to puzzle over the theoretical conduits and empirical underpinnings that can trace how and why this history affects lived realities in the present. Here, we explore how the persistent undertow of violence shows up in our lives today, and the implications for policy and practice.

Melvin Kelley
Associate Professor of Law and Business, Northeastern University

Dania Francis
Assistant Professor of Economics, College of Liberal Arts, UMass Boston
Marissa Jackson Sow
Assistant Professor, University of Richmond School of Law
Inga Laurent
Professor, Gonzaga University School of Law Christina Simko, Associate Professor of Sociology, Williams College

A Conversation:
Margaret Burnham and Melissa Nobles —Lessons Learned and Hopes for the Archive

Oct 7, 2022

9:00 am to 4:30 pm