Black-Jewish Relations on Trial: Leo Frank and Jim Conley in by Jeffrey Melnick

Black-Jewish Relations on Trial: Leo Frank and Jim Conley in by Jeffrey Melnick

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 United States

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 girl who labored within the Atlanta pencil manufacturing unit controlled through Frank. In a tumultuous trial in 1913 Frank's major accuser used to be Jim Conley, an African American worker within the manufacturing facility. used to be Frank in charge?

In our time a martyr's charisma falls over Frank as a sufferer of spiritual and local bigotry. The never-ending controversy has encouraged debates, video clips, books, songs, and theatrical productions. one of the inventive works curious about the case are a ballad through Fiddlin' John Carson, David Mamet's novel The previous Religion in 1997, and Alfred Uhry and Jason Robert Brown's musical Parade in 1998.

Indeed, the Frank case has turn into a touchstone within the background of black-Jewish cultural relatives. How- ever, for too lengthy the trial has been oversimplified because the second whilst Jews well-known their vulnerability in the United States and started to make universal reason with African american citizens.

This learn has a special story to inform. It casts off outdated political and cultural luggage with a view to investigate the cultural context of Frank's trial, and to ascertain the tension put on the connection of African american citizens and Jews through it. the translation provided here's in line with deep archival study, analyses of the court docket files, and research of assorted inventive creations encouraged through the case. It means that the case might be understood as delivering conclusive early facts of the deep mutual mistrust among African american citizens and Jews, a mistrust that has been skillfully and cynically manipulated through strong white humans.

Black-Jewish family on Trial is worried much less with what really occurred within the nationwide Pencil corporation manufacturing unit than with how Frank's trial, conviction, and lynching were used as an party to discover black-Jewish relatives and the hot South. simply as with the O. J. Simpson trial, the Frank trial calls for that americans make a profound exam in their crucial ideals approximately race, sexuality, and tool.

Jeffrey Melnick is an assistant professor of yank experiences at Babson collage and the writer of A correct to Sing the Blues: African americans, Jews, and American renowned Song.

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Extra info for Black-Jewish Relations on Trial: Leo Frank and Jim Conley in the New South

Example text

This reveals to us that "Black-Jewish relations" is not executed in some sort of ethnic laboratory, free and clear of outside interference, but is staged in a public sphere 42 Leo Frank and Jim Conley in Atlanta in which the most powerful actors are often neither African American nor Jewish.

5 Frank explained to Cahan that the African American had no value in the South and was not to be believed against a white man. As a result, Frank thought his Jewishness had to be added to the public picture of him as a white man in order to make Conley's testimony more functional. A Jew, as Frank understood it, was not a southern Christian but still white (481). Cahan himself offered the opinion that once Conley's story had been established as the preferred version, southern whites had to rally against Frank because they could not let the rest of the world believe that an ignorant African American had misled them (508).

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. While both Conley (as an admitted accomplice after the fact) and Frank languished in jail, African 16 Leo Frank, the Musical Americans, Jews, and white Americans, were slugging it out over them. Less than a month after Governor Slaton, following much agonizing, commuted his sentence to life in prison, Frank's body would be hanging from a tree and Jim Conley wouldn't be much better off for it.

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