By Hands Now Known

Norton. Sept. 2022. 352p. ISBN 9780393867855. $30. HIST
Racial violence in the Jim Crow South shaped many Black people’s relationships with the law and the courts in the first half of the 20th century. This violence was essential to establishing Jim Crow legal systems and enforcement. In her first book, Burnham (law, Northeastern Univ.; director, Civil Rights and Restorative Justice Project) uncovers the hidden and unknown victims of Jim Crow violence through detailed research into newspapers, trial testimony, transcripts, and legislation. Based on a database created by Northeastern’s Civil Rights and Restorative Justice Project, this series of case studies focuses on Alabama’s Middle District. In six sections, Burnham demonstrates how Black Americans challenged racial violence and the legal system that supported it, including efforts in Northern states to thwart rendition of fugitives back to the South, where their safety could not be guaranteed. Other sections examine the role of small-town sheriffs in perpetrating violence and the ebb and flow of Department of Justice efforts to prosecute and win convictions in civil rights cases. A final eloquent chapter makes clear the need for reparations to Black communities.
VERDICT Readers interested in the long history of the civil rights struggle should definitely read this.
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