The US Senate confirmed Margaret Burnham, founder and director of CRRJ, as a member of the Civil Rights Cold Case Records Review Board on February 17, 2022.
Burnham was confirmed to the board alongside historian and UCLA professor Brenda Stevenson, Emory University archivist Gabrielle Dudley, and Emory professor Henry “Hank” Klibanoff.
“This board has before it critical work. Our Nation should have broad access to records that help us understand our history, and the families involved deserve to know what the authorities knew at the time these events took place,” Burnham said in response to the news of her confirmation. “As founder and director of CRRJ, I’ve worked with hundreds of families who simply want to know what their government did to protect their loved ones. These official documents will help to reconstruct that story.”
The Civil Rights Cold Case Records Review Board was established by the Civil Rights Cold Case Records Collection Act of 2018 to review government files of unsolved murder cases during the civil rights era and set a schedule for their release. The law was passed by Congress after a drafting and lobbying effort spearheaded by Stuart Wexler and his students at Hightstown High School in New Jersey. It was cosponsored in the Senate by Doug Jones (AL) and Ted Cruz (TX). Congress recently extended the board’s term for three years.