The Kimbrough Scholars Program

The Civil Rights and Restorative Justice Project partners with Cambridge Rindge and Latin School to educate local high school students on investigating racially-motivated cold cases.

The Civil Rights and Restorative Justice Project is collaborating with Cambridge Rindge & Latin School’s Kimbrough Scholars Program to engage high school students in civil rights work. The Kimbrough Scholars Program was designed to connect students with hands-on learning experiences in the field of racial justice. The students, under the supervision of teachers, volunteer community members and CRRJ staff, have the opportunity to critically examine American history, concepts of restorative justice and the law through the lens of Jim Crow and Civil Rights era cold cases.

In 2014, five Kimbrough Scholars were selected to work with CRRJ. In addition to an intensive seminar at CRLS, students spent two afternoons a week at NUSL investigating the racial murder of Eugene Bell, a 22-year-old sharecropper, husband, and father of two in Amite County, Mississippi. CRLS students culminated their semester-long course with a trip to Mississippi, where they interviewed family members and civil rights activists. At the end of the term, the Cambridge City Council issued a resolution congratulating the Kimbrough Scholars, stating “these bright youth deserve to be commended for their remarkable research and laudable dedication to the pursuit of justice.”

This year, CRRJ is working with a group of eight Kimbrough Scholars on the 1942 racial murder of Grant Johnson, an African American man who was beaten and killed by Miami-Dade Sheriff Deputies when he refused to close his store earlier than was required under the law. After Frances Burke, the manager of the establishment, stepped in to defend Mr. Johnson, she too was severely beaten and later charged with interfering with an officer, assault and battery and the possession of untaxed liquor. The Kimbrough Scholars took a trip to the Miami area, where they met and interviewed local activists; searched through archived news articles at the public library for additional coverage of the case; requested public records on the murder; visited archival museums dedicated to the historical preservation of Overtown and Coconut Grove, two historically black communities; and interviewed long-time residents of the Coconut Grove and Perrine area. In May of 2015, the Kimbrough Scholars will present their findings at Cambridge Rindge and Latin School and at Northeastern University School of Law.

 

Kimbrough Scholars, along with CRRJ Attorney Chelsea Schmitz, search through microfilm in the Miami Public Library for archived news articles on the killing of Grant Johnson

The Kimbrough Scholars present a community-wide presentation on the case of Grant Johnson, as well as issues related to race and justice both historically and today

The Kimbrough Scholars present a community-wide presentation on the case of Grant Johnson, as well as issues related to race and justice both historically and today