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


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Clive Webb. University of Sussex Brighton.

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Oxford Academic. Google Scholar. Cite Citation. Permissions Icon Permissions. Issue Section:. You do not currently have access to this article. Download all figures. Sign in. You could not be signed in. Sign In Forgot password? Don't have an account? Organization of American Historians members Sign in via society site. Sign in via your Institution Sign in. Purchase Subscription prices and ordering Short-term Access To purchase short term access, please sign in to your Oxford Academic account above. The poison of unspeakable things took their place. Soon northern newspaper reporters and Frank supporters from around the country poured into Atlanta.

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Adolph Ochs, the owner of The New York Times , dedicated the paper to extensive, sympathetic coverage of the trial. Forensic investigation was inept, even considering the low standards of the era. The case was riddled with loss, suppression and destruction of evidence; perjured testimony and coerced witnesses; and official corruption and bribery.

During the trial, throngs overflowed into the streets outside the courtroom. For their part, neither Frank nor his defense team hesitated to employ racist language against the factory janitor Jim Conley, who was now a witness for the prosecution.

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

It is believed that the Frank case is the first in which a black man testified against a white man in a capital trial. It meant re-evaluating the absoluteness of whiteness. And so, Leo Frank had to be so completely demonized as to be unrecognizable as even a nominal white man. Black newspapers and spokesmen, located chiefly in the north, were wary of championing a career criminal like Conley even as they emphasized the double standard or denial of justice for the majority of African Americans.

He skillfully exploited a white stereotype that a black man would be too unintelligent to plot, execute and hide a murder on his own. His testimony proved credible to the all-white jury, even after the serial prevarications in his numerous affidavits were exposed.

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With few resources, financial or social, Conley used the rigged justice system to his advantage. After a month-long trial, the jury deliberated for less than three hours, returning with a guilty verdict for Leo Frank. He was sentenced to death by hanging.

One of History’s Most Shameful, Repellent and Fascinating Moments (2003)

His many appeals, all the way to the US Supreme Court, were denied. I am innocent and have been unjustly convicted. What I want is justice. Considering the commutation proof of favoritism and deceit, the imprisonment inflamed his detractors even more. Frank continued to press for his freedom. His correspondence from before and during this period poignantly reveals how completely Leo Frank believed that the justice system would vindicate him.

Phagan, Mary -1913

In arguing for his appeals, he invoked Section 1 of the 14 th amendment to the Constitution, which defines citizenship, extending its rights and obligations, and with it, protection and due process of law as the birthright to every person born on US soil. Ironically, this Section had been added in to protect the rights of newly freed slaves. The ultimate in dehumanization and objectification, lynching violently thrusts the victim outside the circle of human society and legal protection.

Using their influence in the community, they escaped punishment and were able to obscure their participation in the plot for decades. Snatched from his prison cell and driven to an oak grove by his abductors, Leo Frank was blindfolded and hanged on August 17, He was the first and only Jew to be lynched on American soil. What lessons have been learned must wait for the future to be realized.


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The coverage of The New York Times and other major papers modeled standards of journalistic accuracy and objectivity that informed national opinion. Lynchings had been local affairs, with largely anonymous victims and perpetrators. The intensive press coverage of the Frank case shined a spotlight on the practice, leading to widespread condemnation among readers throughout the U.

At the same time, the dire state of tolerance and human rights in the south galvanized a national, organized response. In years to come, black and Jewish organizations would collaborate in transformative campaigns for civil and human rights, adding to a trajectory of social gains that endure to today. But the persistent vilification of racial and religious groups witness the contemporary treatment of U.

bisuqaqizuqu.ga Muslims and the racial disparities and inequities in our prison system remind us that the task for an inclusive, just America is ongoing. A former Foreign Service Officer, she served in the U. Inman, Grant and Slaton Families papers by Grant and Slaton Families Inman in English and held by 1 WorldCat member library worldwide These papers consist of correspondence, business papers, and newspaper clippings.

The Murder of Mary Phagan

Leo Frank collection by Leo Frank in English and held by 1 WorldCat member library worldwide The Leo Frank collection is an artificially assembled group of transcriptions, notes, photocopies of trial documents, a copy of a thesis, clippings, and printed material. Brief and argument for plaintiff in error. Frank v. Writ of error to Fulton Superior Court. Henry A. Alexander, of counsel by Leo Frank Book 1 edition published in in English and held by 1 WorldCat member library worldwide.

Leo Max Frank collection by Leo Frank 1 edition published in in English and held by 1 WorldCat member library worldwide Contains a letter, signed by Frank to a supporter during his fight for commutation of his death sentence and newspaper clippings regarding Frank and the case. The edition vol. Collection, by Leo Frank 1 edition published in in English and held by 0 WorldCat member libraries worldwide Contains a letter, signed by Frank to a supporter during his fight for commutation of his death sentence.

Also includes 1 folder of newspaper clippings regarding Frank and the case.

Guilty or not guilty? An account of the trials of the Leo Frank case, the D. Audience Level. Related Identities. Associated Subjects.

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

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