Leo Frank was a pencil factory superintendent in Georgia in April 1913 when his coworker, thirteen-year-old Mary Phagan, was murdered. Her body was found in the factory’s basement, and Frank was convicted of the crime and sentenced to death. Many since have examined the case and posited that Frank was denied a fair trial and unjustly convicted amid a wave of antisemitic fervor – it was this fervor that spurred a mob of people to storm the prison and lynch Frank on August 17, 1915. Frank is the only Jew known to be murdered in this way in American history. Frank’s case has since become the subject of multiple investigations and alleged-coverups, not to mention books, movies, and the current Broadway revival of the musical Parade.
Sandy Berman, founding archivist of The William Breman Jewish Heritage Museum, Steve Oney, author of And the Dead Shall Rise: The Murder of Mary Phagan and the Lynching of Leo Frank, and Eric L. Goldstein, Associate Professor of History and Jewish Studies at Emory University, will talk with Matthew H. Bernstein, Goodrich C. White Professor of Film and Media at Emory University, to delve into Leo Frank’s story and its legacy.
Sandy Berman has a master’s degree in history and archives from Case Western Reserve University and was the founding archivist of the Cleveland Jewish Archives at the Western Reserve Historical Society. She is also the founding archivist of The William Breman Jewish Heritage Museum where she established the largest repository for Jewish historical research in the Southeast. As the archivist Sandy spent years traveling to small towns across Georgia and Alabama documenting Jewish life. During her tenure at The Breman Sandy curated numerous exhibitions including ZAP! POW! BAM! The Superhero: The Golden Age of Superhero Comic Books, 1938-1950, Seeking Justice; The Leo Frank Case Revisited and History with Chutzpah: Remarkable Stories of the Southern Jewish Experience. She is also the author of two books of historical fiction, Klara with a K and Whitewashed.
Steve Oney is the author of And the Dead Shall Rise: The Murder of Mary Phagan and the Lynching of Leo Frank. The book received the American Bar Association’s Silver Gavel Award and the National Jewish Book Award. He is also the author of A Man’s World, a collection of magazine articles drawn from his career writing for GQ, Esquire, Los Angeles, The Atlanta Journal & Constitution Magazine, Time, and other publications. He is presently working on a history of NPR for Simon & Schuster’s Avid Reader Press. He was raised in Atlanta and educated at the University of Georgia and at Harvard, where he was a Nieman and a Shorenstein Fellow. He lives in Los Angeles with his wife, designer Madeline Stuart.
Eric L. Goldstein is Associate Professor of History and Jewish Studies at Emory University, where he directed the Tam Institute for Jewish Studies for a decade. He is the author of the prize-winning The Price of Whiteness: Jews, Race, and American Identity (Princeton University Press, 2006); and, with Deborah R. Weiner, On Middle Ground: A History of the Jews of Baltimore (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2018). From 2007-2012, he was the editor of the quarterly scholarly journal, American Jewish History.
Matthew H. Bernstein is the Goodrich C. White Professor of Film and Media at Emory University, where he teaches courses on film history and criticism. He is the author of Screening a Lynching: The Leo Frank Case on Film and Television (2009) and Walter Wanger, Hollywood Independent (1994; 2004), a biography of a major producer in the classical era. He is the editor or co-editor of four anthologies on topics ranging from John Ford to film censorship and the author of numerous essays. He is a two-time recipient of National Endowment for the Humanities research grants as well as teaching and scholarship awards from the prestigious Society for Cinema and Media Studies. From 2005 to 2020, he served on the National Film Preservation Board, which advises the Librarian of Congress on matters of preservation as well as films to be added to the National Film Registry. He is currently co-writing a history of the Columbia Pictures studio and a study of Atlanta film culture in the segregated era.