Civil rights pioneer to present annual Rock Ethics Institute lecture

Civil rights pioneer to present annual Rock Ethics Institute lecture

Penn State’s Rock Ethics Institute is pleased to announce that the 2023 Richard B. Lippin Lecture in Ethics will feature one of the titans of the civil rights movement: Margaret Burnham, professor of law and founding director of the Civil Rights and Restorative Justice Project at Northeastern University.

In this lecture, professor Burnham will discuss her new book By Hands Now Known: Jim Crow’s Legal Executioners, a paradigm-shifting investigation of Jim Crow-era violence, the legal apparatus that sustained it, and its enduring legacy. “If the law cannot protect a person from a lynching, then isn’t lynching the law?” Burnham asks.

Co-sponsored by the Department of African American Studies, the Department of History and Penn State Law, the 2023 Lippin Lecture will be Thursday, Feb. 23, at 6:00 p.m. EST, in the Flex Theatre, HUB-Robeson Center (HUB 132). Admission is free, and the event is open to the public.

President Joe Biden recently appointed Burnham to the Civil Rights Cold Case Records Review Board, which examines records related to cold cases of murder and other racially motivated violence that occurred between 1940 and 1979. She began her career at the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund.

In 1977, she became the first African American woman to serve in the Massachusetts judiciary when she joined the Boston Municipal Court bench as an associate justice. Later in 1993, South African president Nelson Mandela appointed Burnham to serve on an international human rights commission to investigate alleged human rights violations within the African National Congress. The commission was a precursor to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.

Burnham and her research have been the focus of wide media coverage, including a recent interview on NPR’s Fresh Air and the New York Times‘ review of her book By Hands Now Known.

The Rock Ethics Institute was established in 2001 through the support of Doug and Julie Rock. The institute promotes engaged ethics research and ethical leadership from its home in Penn State’s College of the Liberal Arts.

Topic(s): Global Issues, Public Life, Race
Photo of Margaret Burnham, with name and date of lecture