Student Participation in the Burnham-Nobles Archive
The cases in the Burnham-Nobles Archive were investigated by CRRJ students, legal staff, and volunteer attorneys, while the records of the federal and advocacy organizations were obtained by our historian, Dr. Jay Driskell. Because not all of the cases have been thoroughly researched, the case files are uneven: some reflect comprehensive research and others are less robust. CRRJ’s investigations are ongoing as are Dr. Driskell’s collection efforts, and as new data are collected it will be included in the Archive.
CRRJ students have been involved with the Archive in a variety of ways. Through clinics, co-ops, and public lectures, CRRJ offers instruction in a range of fields about the history of anti-Black racial violence and the resistance movements it spawned. Students are also engaged in the work of redress: collaborating with families and communities, they have designed and advocated for measures including official proclamations and apologies honoring victims, truth commissions, museum exhibitions, and amicus curiae briefs. For many of the cases in the Archive, students have prepared essays reporting on their investigations. These essays are available on request. The essays have been reviewed by CRRJ faculty and editors, but they have not been comprehensively fact-checked.
Many students conducted research at the locations where the crimes took place and some have helped the affected families engage with the work of community restoration. CRRJ works closely with communities seeking to address these wrongs and to meet the responsibilities and obligations that they engender. Rooted in a human rights framework, these restorative justice initiatives are based on the historical record. Meant to foster social reconciliation and deepen public understanding of the dynamics and legacies of racial violence, the politics and culture of resistance, and the relationship between these past experiences and present practices of exclusion, inequity and injustice, these initiatives are a critical aspect of CRRJ’s work.
Students from the Northeastern University School of Journalism have created videos and podcasts based on the cases in the Archive, and these materials may also be available on request.
CRRJ seeks to provide communities that are affected by this history with free and full access to the Archive, and to use the Archive to support community-based research, writing, cultural expression, and knowledge production. CRRJ editors have compiled a book containing student essays and explanatory material from foundational civil rights thinkers and activists such as Frederick Douglass, Ida Barnett-Wells, and W.E.B. DuBois; this resource is forthcoming. CRRJ launched The Racial Redress and Reparations Lab to advance this work through community education and engagement that can lead to successful repair and recognition. Working with public officials and community stakeholders, the Lab offers expertise in designing reparative projects, historical and legal research, convening assistance, and policy development.
CRRJ has also developed curricula and “train the trainer” materials, modules, and videos to assist teachers and trainers of criminal justice professionals, and to inform the public about the history that is the subject of the Burnham-Nobles Archive. The primary source documents in the Archive offer rich opportunities for teaching students how to analyze such materials, and, as well, the sources offer rich opportunities to reconstruct the experiences of the people of the Jim Crow period and their near descendants.