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 girl who labored within the Atlanta pencil manufacturing unit controlled via Frank. In a tumultuous trial in 1913 Frank's major accuser was once Jim Conley, an African American worker within the manufacturing facility. was once Frank in charge?
In our time a martyr's charisma falls over Frank as a sufferer of non secular and neighborhood bigotry. The never-ending controversy has encouraged debates, video clips, books, songs, and theatrical productions. one of the inventive works occupied with the case are a ballad by means of 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 develop into a touchstone within the historical past of black-Jewish cultural family. How- ever, for too lengthy the trial has been oversimplified because the second while Jews well-known their vulnerability in the US and started to make universal reason with African american citizens.
This examine has a unique story to inform. It casts off outdated political and cultural luggage to be able to determine the cultural context of Frank's trial, and to envision the tension put on the connection of African american citizens and Jews by means of it. the translation provided this is in response to deep archival learn, analyses of the courtroom files, and research of varied creative creations encouraged by means of the case. It means that the case may be understood as offering conclusive early proof of the deep mutual mistrust among African american citizens and Jews, a mistrust that has been skillfully and cynically manipulated via strong white humans.
Black-Jewish family 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 social gathering to discover black-Jewish kin 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 gear.
Jeffrey Melnick is an assistant professor of yank reviews at Babson university and the writer of A correct to Sing the Blues: African americans, Jews, and American well known Song.
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Extra info for Black-Jewish Relations on Trial: Leo Frank and Jim Conley in the New South
When the great Jewish socialist journalist Abraham Cahan came South to meet Frank and study the details of the case, he finally became fed up with the purple prose surrounding it and referred to these narratives as sounding as if they had come out of a "junk novel" (513-14). Although there was never any irrefutable proof that Phagan had been sexually assaulted, one speaker at a memorial service for her spoke of how she "gave up her young life rather than surrender that Christian attribute—the crown, glory and honor of true womanhood" (Dinnerstein 137; MacLean 93638).
Domination in this novel is almost always expressed in sexual terms. Kluger's suggestion that Mary Phagan might have enjoyed being sexually abused is repugnant. But his convincing portrayal of the sexual life of the factory works to reveal, finally, that the real "mystery" of the pencil factory was that it threw into question the most basic gender and sexual arrangements in 28 Leo Frank, the Musical the New South. Picking up on hints dropped by Ward Greene, Mervyn Leroy, and Oscar Micheaux, Kluger suggests in his novel that all the rumors were true—at least in part: there was a brothel operating in the basement of the factory, which Leo Frank knew about, and Frank was sexually involved with another factory worker.
Fiddlin' John Carson and the Broadway team of Jason Robert Brown and Alfred Uhry (not to mention David Mamet) could not deliver any real news about the main players in the Frank case because they all tried to deliver fables devoid of context. Whether these artists turn Frank into a demon, a lover, or a philosopher, they all demonstrate a profound failure of nerve and imagination. Frank may well have been Leo Frank, the Musical 29 a demon, a (late-blooming) lover, and a philosopher—but he was given a starring role in the original production of what we have come to call "the Leo Frank case" because he was a boss.
Black-Jewish Relations on Trial: Leo Frank and Jim Conley in the New South by Jeffrey Melnick