By Jeffrey Melnick
An research of the Leo Frank case as a degree of the complexities characterizing the connection among African americans and Jews in the US
In 1915 Leo Frank, a Northern Jew, was once lynched in Georgia. He have been convicted of the homicide of Mary Phagan, a tender white lady who labored within the Atlanta pencil manufacturing facility controlled via Frank. In a tumultuous trial in 1913 Frank's major accuser was once Jim Conley, an African American worker within the manufacturing unit. used to be Frank in charge?
In our time a martyr's air of secrecy falls over Frank as a sufferer of non secular and neighborhood bigotry. The endless controversy has encouraged debates, video clips, books, songs, and theatrical productions. one of the artistic works keen on the case are a ballad by way of Fiddlin' John Carson, David Mamet's novel The outdated Religion in 1997, and Alfred Uhry and Jason Robert Brown's musical Parade in 1998.
Indeed, the Frank case has develop into a touchstone within the historical past of black-Jewish cultural relatives. How- ever, for too lengthy the trial has been oversimplified because the second whilst Jews famous their vulnerability in the United States and started to make universal reason with African american citizens.
This learn has a unique story to inform. It casts off outdated political and cultural luggage for you to check the cultural context of Frank's trial, and to envision the tension put on the connection of African american citizens and Jews through it. the translation provided here's in line with deep archival examine, analyses of the courtroom files, and learn of varied inventive creations encouraged by way of the case. It means that the case may be understood as supplying conclusive early proof of the deep mutual mistrust among African americans and Jews, a mistrust that has been skillfully and cynically manipulated by means of strong white humans.
Black-Jewish relatives on Trial is worried much less with what truly occurred within the nationwide Pencil corporation manufacturing facility than with how Frank's trial, conviction, and lynching were used as an get together to discover black-Jewish relatives and the recent South. simply as with the O. J. Simpson trial, the Frank trial calls for that american citizens make a profound exam in their crucial ideals approximately race, sexuality, and gear.
Jeffrey Melnick is an assistant professor of yankee experiences at Babson university and the writer of A correct to Sing the Blues: African american citizens, Jews, and American renowned Song.
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Additional info for Black-Jewish Relations on Trial: Leo Frank and Jim Conley in the New South
Carson is a towering figure in the history of twentieth-century American popular music; he has been credited with having recorded the first commercial "country" song (Malone 75-77). To understand Carson's place in the history of the Leo Frank trial it is important to remember that he—like most "country" singers—was an urbanite by the time he recorded his music; it is not clear where Carson was bom, but by the time of the Frank trial he was living in Cabbagetown, an area of Atlanta defined by its proximity to the Fulton Bag and Cotton Mill.
The Frank case came at the tail end of what Williamson has dubbed the radical era of southern politics, a defining feature of which was the intensification of racism in law and practice (181; see also Matthews 89; Dinnerstein 7-9). A major flashpoint for this deterioration in race relations was the construction of a nightmare vision of the "New Negro," an image rooted in the pseudoscientific belief that African Americans had, since Emancipation, been degenerating—reverting to type, as the lingo had it.
S. Supreme Court, Frank's death sentence was finally commuted by Governor John Slaton on July 21, 1915. In the two years between Frank's original trial and his commutation, Frank's friends and enemies became increasingly polarized. To his friends he was a Jewish martyr, made to pay the penalty for a crime committed by an African American man. To Frank's enemies, he was the picture of privilege: fears of Jewish money corrupting Georgia's judicial system (and later the federal government) intensified.