Margaret A. BurnhamProfessor of Law
Tougaloo College, BA 1966
University of Pennsylvania, LLB 1969
Mail: 416 Huntington Avenue
Boston, MA 02115
Tel: (617) 373-8857
Fax: (617) 373-5056
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. She is the founder of the School of Law’s Civil Rights and Restorative Justice Project, which engages students in legal matters relating to the 1960s US civil rights movement. In 2010, 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. The case and settlement were widely covered in the national press. In 2016, Professor Burnham was selected for the competitive and prestigious Carnegie Fellows Program. Provided to just 33 recipients nationwide, 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 is using the funding to deepen and extend CRRJ’s work and research dedicated to seeking justice for crimes of the civil rights era.
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.
Fields of Expertise
- Careers in the Law
- Civil Rights
- Constitutional Law
- International Criminal Law
- International Law
- “Foundation Names 33 Andrew Carnegie Fellows Winners,” The New York Times (April 19, 2016).
- “The Cold Cases of the Jim Crow Era,”The New York Times (August 28, 2015).
- “The New Great Dissenter: On Affirmative Action, Sotomayor Gets It Right,” Cognoscenti, WBUR (April 25, 2014).
- “Are We Finally Ready To Reduce Racial Bias In Our Courts?‚” Cognoscenti, WBUR (March 4, 2014).
- “Recasting Anti-Civil Rights Violence,” Northeastern University School of Law Research Paper No. 42-2009 (2009).
- “The Missing Civil Rights Murders: Justice Delayed in Mississippi,” Jurist Legal News and Research (June 2007).
- “Indigenous Constitutionalism and the Death Penalty: The Case of the Commonwealth Caribbean,” 3 International Journal of Constitutional Law 582 (2005).
- “Unbowed and Unbanned: The South African Freedom Charter at Fifty,” Safundi: The Journal of South African and American Comparative Studies 18 (April 2005).
- “Cultivating a Seedling Charter: South Africa's Court Grows Its Constitution,” 3 Michigan Journal of Race & Law 29 (1997).
- “Property, Parenthood and Peonage: Reflections on the Return to Status Quo Antebellum,” 18 Cardozo Law Review 433 (1996).
- “An Impossible Marriage: Slave Law and Family Law,” 5 University of Minnesota Journal of Law & Inequality 187 (1987).
- “Scottsboro Boys,” in Encyclopedia of Race & Racism, 2nd Edition, ed. P. Mason (Macmillan Reference USA, 2011).
- “The Death Penalty in East Africa: Law, Politics and Transnational Advocacy,” in Human Rights NGOs in East Africa: Defining the Challenges, ed. M. Mutua (2007).
- “Legal Aid, Legal Services and Public Defender Organizations,” in Legal Chowder: Lawyering and Judging in Massachusetts, ed. R. Kass (2002).
- "A Reality Check on Claims of Vintage 'Fake News',"The Washington Post (January 5, 2017).
- "Bringing Justice, and Closure, in Civil Rights Cold Case,"news@Northeastern (January 5, 2017).
- "Getting Away With Murder,"The Marshall Project (January 3, 2017).
- "Trump is Just the Latest Obstacle on the Zigzagging Course of Racial Progress," The Guardian (December 19, 2016).
- “A Lynching Kept Out of Sight,”The Washington Post (September 2, 2016).
- “CRRJ Provides First Full Account of Notorious 1947 Georgia Jailhouse Killing,”Northeastern University School of Law (August 22, 2016).
- “The Most Important Moment For Civil Rights This Century Is Upon Us,”Cognoscenti, WBUR (July 11, 2016).
- “Northeastern honors community’s highest achievements,” news@Northeastern (April 21, 2016).
- “Law Professor Margaret Burnham Named Carnegie Fellow,” news@Northeastern (April 19, 2016).
- “3Qs: Law professor remembers civil rights icon,” news@Northeastern (August 20, 2015).
- “Baltimore Wasn’t The First City To Burn, And It Won’t Be The Last,”Cognoscenti, WBUR (May 1, 2015).
- Radio Interview: “Obama Walks a Fine Line on Baltimore riots,”RN Breakfast Radio (April 30, 2015).
- Radio interview: “Streetcars Center of Many Racially Motivated Killings,”On Second Thought Radio (January 15, 2015).
- Radio interview: “Documenting Jim Crow Era Deaths,”Morning Show, BYU Radio (January 14, 2015).
- “Alabama's Jim Crow Era Murders Under New Spotlight,”AL.Com (January 8, 2015).
- “The Goal: To Remember Each Jim Crow Killing, From The ‘30s On,”Code Switch, NPR (January 3, 2015).
- “A trip back to Atlanta’s Streetcars in the Jim Crow Era,”The Atlanta-Journal Constitution (January 2, 2015).
- “Northeastern University Students Uncover Forgotten Killings From Jim Crow Era,”The Boston Globe (December 21, 2014).
- "The Significance of Nobel Peace Award Shared by Indian and Pakistani Activists," CCTV America (October 2014)