Northeastern University Team Digs Into Jim Crow-Era Cold Case Murders

The Civil Rights and Restorative Justice Project at Northeastern University’s School of Law in Boston has brought to light six cold cases of Black men murdered during the Jim Crow-era in Mobile, Alabama. These men were honored in a ceremony held just a few steps from where one of the victims, Rayfield Davis, was murdered. All six victims were murdered by White men who were later not prosecuted for their crimes. Three of the Black men were killed by police officers.

The Northeastern research group was led by law professor Margaret Burnham. The team investigated and archived 500 acts of racial injustice that took place in the South from 1930 to 1970. Most families of the victims knew little to nothing of what had happened until the investigation conducted by the Northeastern University researchers.

In a recent ceremony, the six murdered Black men were honored with a street sign installed near the ditch were Rayfield Davis was murdered. The sign proclaimed the path along the railroad tracks as Honorary Rayfield Davis Way. In addition, a historical marker will be added to the site that tells the story of the victims.

Professor Burnham earned her bachelor’s degree in history at Tougaloo College in Mississippi. She is also a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania Law School in Philadelphia. She joined the faculty at the Northeastern University School of Law in 2002 and was promoted to full professor in 2006.


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  1. Selwyn R. Cudjoe says:

    Great job Professor Burnham. Keep on the great work. Your fans out here applaud your efforts that go back to the early days when you defended Sister Angela Davis. We are proud of your contributions of our people’s liberation struggle.

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