The Civil Rights and Restorative Justice Project


Reparative Justice and Social Healing: Research and Reflection on Historic Violence

as part of the National Association of Community and Restorative Justice’s Sixth National Conference

Oakland, California
Saturday, June 17, 2017
9:00 am to 12:30 pm

This three-hour session, convened by the Civil Rights and Restorative Justice Project (CRRJ) at Northeastern University School of Law, brings together artists, activists and researchers to think creatively about the national movement to come to terms with, and transcend, historic racial violence. Participants will explore practices that seek to bring satisfaction to the victims, redress the collective harm to communities of color and re-imagine non-violence in current conditions of deepening inequity and injustice.


The pursuit of social healing includes the preservation of historical memory and the restoration of victims’ dignity. CRRJ’s three panels explore the double meaning of “restorative justice:” finding a path to justice that restores collective dignity, and restoring justice to the victims of historic gross human rights violations. The presenters will discuss projects that inform the work of communities confronting historic racial violence in the United States. The movement to draw current meaning from the history of mid-20th century racial violence, both explicit and systematic, is reflected in artistic, academic and activist initiatives that address reparations, memory projects, and other forms of redress. The panelists will examine the ways in which the traditions, practices and norms associated with historic violence continue despite the dismantling of legal segregation, and they will situate the movement for historical memory in relation to current initiatives aimed at decarceration, decriminalization and police violence. The session will consider questions of law and history, pedagogy, community memorialization practices, and the reparative power of the creative arts.

>> View panelist biographies


Saturday, June 17, 2017

9:00 - 9:15 a.m. 

Gather and Introduction to the Session

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

9:15 - 10:15 a.m. 

Panel 1: Research

What major questions animate current research into historical racial violence and remediation? What are the interconnections between work in different regions of the country and time periods? What interventions can researchers make through the data and collections we are building to foster new histories, identities, theories, demographies and geographies? How do the methods used by social science and humanities scholars shape the emergence and diffusion of social memory in local and national contexts? What voices might we be unintentionally excluding as we revise the historical record? The panelists will discuss academic and community-based research.

David Cunningham
Professor of Sociology, Washington University in St. Louis

RJ Ramey
Founder and President, Auut Studio (MonroeWorkToday)

Margaret Burnham
University Distinguished Professor and Director, Civil Rights and Restorative Justice Project, Northeastern University School of Law

10:15 - 11:15 a.m. 

Panel 2: Reflection

How are we engaging the arts, broadly defined, to imagine new realities, transform our perspectives on the lives of the victims and communities we seek to re-discover, comprehend the spectacular traumas they endured, and navigate the aesthetic poles of remembrance and forgetting? Artists, and those who study their work, explore questions of representation, ritual and violence, and the manipulation and redesign of voices and images to interrogate issues of race, politics and identity. The discussion will illuminate how artists shape our understandings of racial violence, past and present, as well as our political mourning, our sorrows and our resistance. The panelists will “perform” these questions and also discuss them.

Rae Paris
Assistant Professor of Creative Writing, Michigan State University

Michael Warr
Principal, WarrConsulting

Michele Wells
Founder and Director, Run On Productions

Kaylie Simon '11
Deputy Public Defender, Contra Costa County Public Defenders Office

11:15 - 11:30 a.m.


11:30 a.m. - 12:30 p.m.

Panel 3: Reparation

The international Movement for Memory has produced a wide range of reparative forms and a multiplicity of purposes. Alongside, and sometimes in place of compensatory measures, the structures and happenings include museums, sites of memory, the construction of some monuments and the dismantling of others, historical anniversaries and acts of commemoration. The objectives are, like memory itself, often contested and contradictory. What makes for a successful act of symbolic reparation? What is the relation between the transformation of collective memory, historical silences, denied victimhood, and acts of repair? The panelists will situate these and other questions in the context of the Japanese American reparations project, the experiences of the National Coalition for Redress and Reparations, the movement to rid New Orleans of Confederate Monuments and the role of museums as sites of both commemoration and intervention in social memory.

Robyn Autry
Associate Professor of Sociology, Wesleyan University

Kodi Roberts
Assistant Professor of History, Louisiana State University (History)

Laura Misumi '14 (“she” “her” “hers”)
Workers’ Rights Staff Attorney, Community Development Project, Urban Justice Center

Jessica Yamane '14 (“she” “her” “hers”)
Immigration Attorney, La Raza Community Resource Center

This event is made possible with support from The Carnegie Corporation of New York.