Book cover of By Hands Now Known: Jim Crow's Legal Executioners by Margaret Burnhamby Margaret A. Burnham

A Finalist for the 2022 Kirkus Prize for Nonfiction

A paradigm-shifting investigation of Jim Crow–era violence, the legal apparatus that sustained it, and its enduring legacy, from a renowned legal scholar.

If the law cannot protect a person from a lynching, then isn’t lynching the law?

In By Hands Now Known, Margaret A. Burnham, director of Northeastern University’s Civil Rights and Restorative Justice Project, challenges our understanding of the Jim Crow 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-twentieth-century South, and traces the unremitting line from slavery to the legal structures of this period and through to today.

Interview with the Author

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Margaret Burnham, “By Hands Now Known”
10/16/22             64 min

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Episode 217: Margaret Burnham Investigates Legal Apparatus That Sustained Jim Crow- Era Violence
11/4/22              48 min

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A Word: Jim Crow’s Killers
10/28/22             25 min

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Margaret A. Burnham | By Hands Now Known: Jim Crow’s Legal Executioners
10/3/22          57 min

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