CRRJ Mellon Foundation Grant

09.17.19 —The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation has awarded $750,000 to the Civil Rights and Restorative Justice Project (CRRJ) at Northeastern University School of Law to support its pathbreaking work in investigating and archiving acts of racial terror in the South between 1930 and the 1970s. CRRJ is the nation’s pioneer program in examining current racial inequities through the lens of history and seeking creative reparative justice. For a decade, CRRJ has investigated, publicized and remediated historical cases of racial homicide.

The Mellon Foundation grant will be used to deepen the work of the CRRJ Burnham-Nobles Digital Archive, an extraordinary collection of primary source documents as well as still images and interviews on cases of racially motivated homicides between 1930 and 1970 in 12 southern states. CRRJ has identified 2,000 racial homicide cases from 15 southern and border states that it plans to add to the exiting archive of 500 cases. Among those are 100 cases that were previously largely unknown to the public, including the only racial lynching death of a US soldier on a US Army base, the first mob killing of an NAACP officer and the shooting death of a would-be Georgia voter. 

“This support will allow us to take advantage of the latest technologies, collect and preserve more primary sources, offer a forum for more communities and empower more students to engage critically with history, racism and the role of law in these pivotal decades of the 20th century,” said University Distinguished Professor of Law Margaret Burnham, founder and director of CRRJ. “We are particularly keen to work with our colleagues at Snell Library as they create unique open source technologies to host and manage the CRRJ Burnham-Nobles Archive.”

CRRJ’s work has been featured in the national press many times, including The Washington Post, The New York Times, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution and the “CBS Evening News,” among many others. CRRJ’s model of combining academic investigation and community remediation launched the projects of a cadre of researchers and practitioners in the field of racial violence and CRRJ continues to lead collaborations across the country, including contributing information regarding victims who are memorialized in the Equal Justice Initiative’s National Memorial for Peace and Justice in Montgomery, Alabama.

“A sense of urgency hangs over this project, for those most affected by the events are aging,” explained Burnham. “These testimonies should be collected now, while those who were personally affected can still participate. Working at its current rate and with its current resources, CRRJ would need 33 years to complete the cases it has already identified for the archive. If America is to locate truth and reconcile with a violent past where the rule of law was ignored, now is the time that must be done. We are incredibly grateful to The Mellon Foundation for supporting this critical work.”

About Northeastern University School of Law

The nation’s leader in experiential legal education since 1968, Northeastern University School of Law offers the longest-running, most extensive experience-based legal education program in the country and is a national leader in legal education reform. Founded with cooperative legal education as the cornerstone of its program, Northeastern guarantees its students unparalleled practical legal work experiences. All students participate in full-time legal placements, and can choose from the more than 1,500 employers worldwide participating in the school’s signature Cooperative Legal Education Program. The future of legal education since 1968, Northeastern University School of Law blends theory and practice, providing students with a unique set of skills and experience to successfully practice law.

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