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The Legal Legacy of Jim Crow

In-Person and Online Program

Evening Lecture/Seminar

Wednesday, September 28, 2022 - 6:45 p.m. to 8:15 p.m. ET
Code: 1J0200
In-person Ticket Holders: Ripley Center
1100 Jefferson Dr SW
Metro: Smithsonian (Mall exit)
Online Ticket Holders: Zoom
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Online - Member
Online - Nonmember

At the bus station in Durham, North Carolina by Jack Delano, 1940 (Library of Congress)

Please Note: Registration for in-person tickets will end at 2 p.m. ET on Wednesday, September 28.

Registration Advisory: This program has multiple ticket options depending on your choice to attend in person at the S. Dillon Ripley Center or as an online program using Zoom. Before you register, please refer to our in-person vs. online program procedural documentation to learn about our current terms and conditions.

If the law cannot protect a person from lynching, then does lynching become the law? In conversation with Ashleigh Coren, women's history content and interpretation curator at the Smithsonian's National Portrait Gallery, Margaret A. Burnham, director of Northeastern University’s Civil Rights and Restorative Justice Project, investigates the violence of the Jim Crow–era, the legal apparatus that sustained it, and its enduring legacy. She challenges the accepted understanding of the era by exploring the relationship between formal law and background legal norms in a series of harrowing cases from 1920 to 1960.

From rendition, the legal process by which states make claims to other states for the return of their citizens, to battles over state and federal jurisdiction and the outsize role of local sheriffs in enforcing racial hierarchy, Burnham maps the criminal legal system in the mid-20th-century South and traces its line back to slavery and forward to today.

Her new book, By Hands Now Known: Jim Crow’s Legal Executioners (WW Norton) is available for purchase.

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