Southern Museum to Lead Exhibition and Programs to Memorialize 100th Anniversary of Leo Frank Lynching
- Community dialogue, special programs to examine prejudice and bigotry in society then and now
- “Seeking Justice: The Leo Frank Case Revisited” exhibit to be displayed at the Southern Museum
- Museum of History and Holocaust Education at Kennesaw State University, The Breman Museum and Southern Museum to partner in exploration of Frank case and its implications a century later
- Alfred Uhry’s “Parade,” Broadway musical about the Frank case to be staged in Strand Theater and The Temple
The Southern Museum is partnering with the William Breman Jewish Heritage Museum in Atlanta and the Museum of History and Holocaust Education at Kennesaw State University to present the exhibit and related programming, which will contribute to a larger commemoration taking place throughout metro Atlanta.
Leo Frank, the Jewish superintendent of the National Pencil Co., was convicted in 1913 of murdering one of his employees, 13-year-old Mary Phagan. His conviction followed a controversial and highly sensationalized trial that highlighted anti-Semitic sentiment in the state at the time.
Originally sentenced to death, Georgia Gov. John M. Slaton believed Frank might be innocent and commuted Frank’s sentence to life in prison. However, Frank was abducted from a state prison in Milledgeville and lynched in the early morning hours of Aug. 17, 1915, near where Interstate 75 today crosses State Route 120 in Marietta.
“The lynching of Leo Frank is a difficult moment in our state’s history and one that still resonates a century later,” said Dr. Richard Banz, executive director of the Southern Museum. “While its memory and aftermath are painful even 100 years later, we expect this exhibit to spark an exploration of how we can work together to eliminate bigotry from the public square.”
The centerpiece of the Museum’s efforts will be the “Seeking Justice: The Leo Frank Case Revisited” exhibit running from Aug. 16 until Nov. 29. The 2,800-square-foot exhibit includes one-of-a-kind artifacts from both Frank and Phagan, including Frank’s National Pencil Co. desk, personal belongings from Phagan and the door to the Milledgeville prison infirmary the mob allegedly opened when kidnapping Frank.
Other programming highlights include:
- Exhibit Opening Day, Aug. 17 from 9:30am-5:00pm: The “Seeking Justice” exhibit will open to the public at the Southern Museum on Monday, August 17. The Southern Museum will host a members-only preview, for members of the Southern Museum, the day prior on Sunday, August 16.
- Centennial Remembrance, Aug. 17 at 2:00pm: Congregation Ner Tamid will lead a centennial remembrance of Leo Frank’s lynching. Rabbi Tom Liebschutz will lead the Kaddish prayer.
- Community Conversation: Leo Frank: 100 Years in the Media, Sept. 21 at 7:00pm: Kennesaw State University will host a Community Conversation, discussing the role the media played in covering and sensationalizing the Leo Frank trial and lynching. The dialogue will be facilitated by faculty and staff at Kennesaw State University.
- Community Conversation & Gallery Tour: The Past Speaking to the Present, Oct. 15 at 6:00pm: The Southern Museum will host another Community Conversation, where exhibit curators and historians will discuss the role artifacts play in shaping how we engage with and understand the Leo Frank trial and lynching.
- “Parade” Performance, Nov. 19 at 7:30pm: The capstone event of the Leo Frank lynching remembrance is a special performance of native Atlantan Alfred Uhry’s Tony Award-winning musical “Parade.” The musical will be performed at the historic Strand Theater in downtown Marietta, and will be followed by a Community Conversation led by Uhry.
- Encore Performance, Nov. 22: An encore performance of Alfred Uhry’s musical, “Parade,” will be performed at The Temple in Midtown Atlanta. Founded in 1867, The Temple is the city’s oldest synagogue and is where Leo Frank and his family were members. For a century and a half, it has built a tradition of social justice work. Following the performance, the final Community Conversation will take place, led by Uhry and KSU faculty.
Former Georgia Gov. Roy Barnes is leading the committee charged with fundraising and organizing programming.
“Conversations about events such as the lynching of Leo Frank are never easy, but they will lead to a better understanding of one another,” Barnes said. “When we shy away from tackling controversial and complex topics, we allow misunderstandings to fester. But, by having an ongoing dialogue about sensitive issues, we can understand not just what makes us different, but how our shared experiences have helped shape and define our cultures.”
The “Seeking Justice: The Leo Frank Case Revisited” exhibit is organized by The William Breman Jewish Heritage Museum, Atlanta, GA.
The Southern Museum is located at 2829 Cherokee Street in downtown Kennesaw (exit 273 on Interstate 75). Museum admission is $7.50 for adults, $6.50 for seniors, $5.50 for children ages 4-12 and free for children three and under. Members of both the Southern Museum and the Breman Museum receive free admission.
For more information, visit southernmuseum.org.
Parking for events held at the Southern Museum can be found HERE