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Dear Friends of CRRJ, 

As spring approaches, CRRJ looks back on a winter season that kept us busy with our customary projects, along with exciting new initiatives. 

We improved the functionality and integrity of the Burnham Nobles Digital Archive. We’re particularly pleased that the BNDA map gives users a dynamic and helpful point of entry into the data. Our recent work in Maryland, Kentucky, and Missouri provides the opportunity to contrast Jim Crow-era violence and policing in the Deep South with patterns in the border states.

New academic and community partnerships furthered our recovery of documents and outreach to families. We collaborated with professors in law and history at the J. David Rosenberg College of Law at the University of Kentucky, helping students in their clinic to conduct investigations of incidents in their state. A church congregation in Massachusetts helped us pursue cases in Maryland. Particularly rewarding was our special relationship with the Booker Spicely Committee in North Carolina, culminating in a state marker situated near the site of Spicely’s killing and a scholarship fund for North Carolina Central University’s law school. 

In 2023, CRRJ investigated cases beyond the Deep South for the first time, and continues its work with descendant communities.

Read our 2023  Report

This March, CRRJ’s work on the case of Albert King has led to a full military service in Columbus, Georgia outside of Fort Benning, now Fort Moore. The ceremony will honor King, Private, US Army, who was murdered in 1941 by Sgt. Robert Lummus, a white military police officer who was never held responsible for his killing.


In 2002, following the submission of a petition by CRRJ and pro bono lawyers at Morgan Lewis, the Army Board for Correction of Records (ABCMR) changed Pvt. King’s official status, certifying that he died in the line of duty and restoring to him the full honor of having served his country.

We also supervised student-led projects at the Louis Berry Institute for Civil Rights and Justice at Southern University Law Center.

We continue to explore the redress of historical wrongful executions where racism apparently brought about the result. Along with a team of lawyers from the Innocence Project, we are pursuing a just result for the family of Tommy Lee Walker, a 19-year-old charged with the murder of a white woman and executed in 1956 by the State of Texas in the wake of racially charged court proceedings. In collaboration with the Law Firm Antiracism Alliance, we are mounting a project to pursue similar cases.

CRRJ’s Racial Redress and Reparations Lab initiated two significant projects at the beginning of this year. CRRJ leads a team of Northeastern scholars that, in January 2024, was selected by the City of Boston to conduct research to support the Boston Reparations Task Force. That Task Force is studying the impact of slavery on Boston’s Black residents. Our Northeastern team will examine how the legacy of slavery manifested in economic and social life from 1940 to the present. The CRRJ Lab also received support from two grantors to consider the relationship between federal law enforcement and racially motivated killings during the late nineteenth and twentieth centuries, and to explore opportunities for redress at the federal level.

CRRJ’s team continues to expand. Last winter, Joy Zanghi joined as our archivist, our long-time historian, Jay Driskell, became a full-time staff member, and we added Program Manager Jennifer True to the team.

Indeed, it has been a busy season, leaving us all the more excited to advance our new projects this spring and summer.

With all best wishes, and with thanks for your support –

CRRJ Director and founder, Professor Margaret Burnham

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Featured Case for Women's History Month

Above: Della McDuffie was killed in Wilcox County, Alabama in 1953, by Sheriff Jenkins and highway patrol officers. Photo courtesy of newspaper clippings housed in the Burnham-Nobles Digital Archive.

Della McDuffie

In the heart of the Black Belt, Wilcox County, Alabama, in 1953, Della’s Place was the spot for a late-night meal and some jukebox music once the bars in town had closed.

The bustling café, established by Della and Will “Snowball” McDuffie, on U.S. Highway No. 5 was popular with young and old alike. Diners usually headed there after watching a movie at the local movie theater, owned by the McDuffie’s son, James.

On the evening of April 25, 1953, Della McDuffie watched the crowd of movie-goers and families filling her café from her wheelchair. Friend and young mother, Zora Hayes sat beside Mrs. McDuffie, cradling her two-year-old child.

It was a little past midnight when Wilcox County Sheriff, Columbus “Lummie” Jenkins, entered Della’s Place with two highway patrol officers.

Della’s Place was meant to close at 12 a.m. and Will McDuffie had, moments prior to the sheriff’s arrival, instructed an employee to shut down the Rockola and start closing-up for the night.

Will McDuffie took his wife’s case to the NAACP and spoke with the well-known Mobile branch secretary, John LeFlore. LeFlore helped Mr. McDuffie prepare an affidavit which was given to Attorney Thurgood Marshall.

Read more about the case

Not satisfied with the haste with which patrons were departing the café and under the pretense of keeping the peace, Jenkins and the officers fired their guns and beat Della’s customers with blackjacks. Stunned, men women and children scrambled to escape from the attack and flee the café. But Della McDuffie, who was wheelchair-bound, could not escape.

Fearing for the safety of her child, Hayes ran from Della’s side and hid in the McDuffie’s living quarters above the café. The mother would later testify to investigators that she saw Jenkins entering the café with a blackjack in his hand and heard the shooting from her hiding place.

After the attack, Will McDuffie approached his wife and found her dazed, her left arm limp. In his affidavit later given to investigators – now preserved in the Burnham-Nobles Digital Archive — he said he observed blood close to her right ear.

Mrs. McDuffie was carried into her bedroom, where she told her husband she had been hit. Will McDuffie recalled asking his wife, “Sure Mr. Lummie didn’t hit you?” She confirmed that he had. Della McDuffie told her husband that Jenkins ordered her to stand up and when she was unable to comply he had struck her.

Della McDuffie died shortly after the beating in the early hours of April 26, 1953.

Despite witnesses to her injuries, there was no autopsy and Della McDuffie’s death certificate states she died from a pre-existing blood condition.

Read About McDuffie's Case

Updates at CRRJ and in the Field

Historical Marker unveiled commemorating 1944 CRRJ case, first in NC. to use “Jim Crow”

On December 1, 2023, a North Carolina State Highway Historical Marker was unveiled in honor of Pfc. Booker T. Spicely, the first such marker in North Carolina that makes mention of the term “Jim Crow.”

In 1944, Pfc. Spicely, in uniform and unarmed, was shot and killed by a Durham bus driver just three blocks east of Watts Hospital, after a brief exchange in which Spicely protested the segregated seating on the bus.

Among the crowd of residents, activists, elected public officials and academics in attendance at the unveiling, on the corner of Club Boulevard and Broad Street, were many members of the Spicely family, including Marilyn Spicely and her husband Lincoln Thomas Spicely, Spicely’s nephew.

Read More

Above: A historical marker was unveiled Dec. 1, 2023, in North Carolina, honoring Pfc. Booker Spicely, killed in 1944. Photo by Jay Price. More on Spicely's case can be found in the Burnham-Nobles Digital Archive.

Above: Participating UK Law students, Cori Agnoni, Onyeka Anosike, Sydney Larue, Celina Saylor and Alyssa Williams.

University of Kentucky completes first CRRJ Clinic, based on Northeastern model

As the inaugural Civil Rights and Restorative Justice Clinic at the University of Kentucky J. David Rosenberg College of Law (UK Law) celebrated the conclusion of its first semester on December 5 — following months of preparation and support from CRRJ attorneys and historians — staff and faculty now turn their attention to securing the program’s future in 2024.

Read More

CRRJ to aid City of Boston Reparations Task Force, researching Boston’s legacy of slavery

It was announced on January 24, 2024, that the City of Boston’s Task Force on Reparations has selected a Northeastern University School of Law team, led by CRRJ Director Margaret Burnham, to research the multi-generational impact of slavery on Black Bostonians.

Above: Boston City Hall Plaza. Photo courtesy of Brett Wharton @BrettWharton

The team’s report will play a central role in guiding the city’s reparations efforts.

“Our goal will be to highlight how power was exercised in the City of Boston to allocate resources, benefiting certain groups and burdening others,” said Burnham, who heads Northeastern University School of Law’s Civil Rights and Restorative Justice Project and is co-director of the school’s Center for Law, Equity and Race (CLEAR).

Burnham will co-lead the team with Dr. Deborah A. Jackson, managing director of CLEAR. The group will conduct archival research into the legacies of slavery as they affected public education, public services, housing, and economic development from 1940 to the present in the City.

Read More

Above: Kellie Carter Jackson's latest book will be published in June 2024, and is available for pre-order now.

CRRJ Celebrates Black History Month by Centering Black Resistance

To mark this year’s Black History Month, CRRJ invited Professor Kellie Carter Jackson, chair of Africana studies at Wellesley College, to present her new book, We Refuse: A Forceful History of Black Resistance.

“This book pushes against and beyond the dominant civil rights narrative that conditions us to see Black people as worthy actors because of their commitment to nonviolence,” said Carter Jackson, an op-ed writer, podcaster, Historian-in-Residence for Boston’s Museum of African American History.

Her work argues that both violent and non-violent Black resistance are legitimate, the traditional dichotomy between Martin Luther King and Malcolm X neeeds to be re-examined.

Read More

Daughter shares family history with Washington Post, as CRRJ supports her pursuit for restorative justice

On May 8, 1954, Russell Charley’s three eldest sons John, 16, Russell, 14, and Willie Lee, 12 found their father’s castrated body hanging from a tree not far from their family home in Vredenburgh, Alabama.

Charley was a father to six children and his wife, Carrie, was pregnant with their seventh at the time of his lynching.

Annie Whitlock, Charley’s daughter who was 5-years-old at the time of his murder, has been working with CRRJ to pursue financial compensation and an apology from town officials for her father’s death.

Adding her voice to the ongoing discussion on how best to memorialize victims of lynching, Whitlock recently spoke with a journalist from the Washington Post about her family’s history and her fight for restorative justice.

Read More

Above: Newspaper report from the Chicago Defender about the alleged hanging of Russell Charlie on June 12, 1954. More on this case can be found in the Burnham-Nobles Digital Archive.

NEW: Where are they now?

At the beginning of 2024, CRRJ launched their new series, re-connecting with past Clinic students to find out how their time working on CRRJ's cases impacted their professional careers and personal outlook.

The first interview in this series was with Robert Sanderman (NUSL '14) who is now a housing attorney for Queens Legal Services in New York.

Sanderman joined CRRJ in 2012 and spent months uncovering details about the killing of Malcolm Wright, who was 49 years old when three white men beat him to death in Chickasaw County, Mississippi in 1949.

After an altercation in which they claimed Wright failed to move his vehicle and clear the road, the three men killed the farmer with a tire iron, while Wright’s wife and children looked on from the vehicle.

Read Sanderman's Alumnae Profile

Above: Robert Sanderman (NUSL '14) joined CRRJ in his second year of law school, investigating the case of Malcolm Wright. Photo courtesy of Sanderman.


In 1944, Pfc. Spicely, in uniform and unarmed, was shot and killed by a Durham bus driver just three blocks east of Watts Hospital, after a brief exchange in which Spicely protested the segregated seating on the bus. This winter, a historical marker was unveiled near the site of his death, while Williams has successfully spearheaded efforts to create the Booker T. Spicely Endowed Scholarship Fund and develop a public school lesson plan incorporating Spicely’s case.

When: April 2, 2024, 11:10-1:05 p.m. EST

Where: 115 Dockser Hall



Join our colleagues at CLEAR for a symposium with Kris Manjapra, CLEAR Faculty Fellow, and an international group of experts in discussion about the cultural mobilizations, institutional shifts, legal battles and reparative futures resulting from the “call” of ancestral entities held by museums. 

When: April 12, 2024, 10-3 p.m EST

Where: 40 Dockser Hall and online


Register for the Symposium

CRRJ Spotlight

Spotlight on: Mike Beaudet

Mike Beaudet, an Emmy award-winning investigative reporter at WCVB-TV Boston, knows how to tell a story.

That’s why, when CRRJ clinic student Tara Dunn (NUSL ’17) wanted to share her research on the 1947 killing of Henry “Peg” Gilbert, she approached Beaudet, professor of the practice at Northeastern’s School of Journalism.

Above: Mike Beaudet, professor of the practice at Northeastern's School of Journalism, helped produce documentary film,The Lynching of Henry "Peg" Gilbert. Photo by Matthew Modoono/Northeastern University.

“We are the storytellers that’s what we do,” said Beaudet, in a recent interview with CRRJ. “CRRJ has the content, we have the storytelling skills, so the more that we can collaborate, it’s going to be a better way to get these stories out to the world so that people appreciate them.”

Dunn’s collaboration with Beaudet in 2015 marked the start of a fruitful and ongoing partnership between CRRJ and the Journalism School, spanning almost a decade.

Arguably the most successful project to come from this collaboration, “The Lynching of Henry ‘Peg’ Gilbert,” a short documentary film about Gilbert’s murder and the impact of his death on his family and wider community, has aired on television stations across the country and been streamed by millions since its release on Hulu in 2020.

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.