ADL Education Programs
Excerpts from The People v. Leo Frank:
A teacher’s guide to accompany the film by Ben Loeterman
For more information about The People v. Leo Frank or for a DVD version of the movie to accompany the Teacher’s Guide, visit www.leofrankfilm.com.
Excerpts from “Take A Look”
Each topic area in the Teacher’s Guide includes “Take A Look,” a guided review of select film clips with discussion questions. Below are excerpts of “Take A Look” from each topic area. Watch the clip by clicking on the image and then answer the accompanying questions.
Early Jewish Life in Atlanta
From Section 1: Anti-Semitism and Religious Bigotry
- What is assimilation? Do you think the German Jews of Atlanta sacrificed anything by assimilating so fully into Southern life?
- How did the Jews of Atlanta reconcile (or bring together) their religious and national identities?
- Do you think the German Jews had more in common with their Christian neighbors or the new Jewish immigrants from Russia?
- What thoughts or emotions do you think were beneath the German Jews’ rejection of their fellow Jews from Russia and Eastern Europe?
History of Lynching
From Section 2: Racism and Race Relations
- How did the culture of lynching serve as a backdrop to the Frank case? How might it have influenced Conley’s behavior?
- What is meant by the term “lynch law”? How was this extralegal tool used to enforce Jim Crow and support white supremacy?
- Does it surprise you that Frank, a white man, was lynched? Why or why not? What message do you think this act communicated to Jews?
Young Women in the Workplace
From Section 3: Regional and Class Tension
- Many of the girls who testified that Leo Frank made sexual advances later took back their stories. What do you think motivated them to swear to Frank’s “bad character”?
- How did stereotypes about both females (e.g., innocent, pure, vulnerable) and “capitalists” (e.g., exploitative, immoral, greedy) work together to incriminate Frank?
- How do you think men in this era felt about having to send their wives and children off to help earn money? How did these feelings factor into the Leo Frank trial?
Northern vs. Southern Exposures: The New York Times and The Jeffersonian
From Section 4: The Power of the Press
- Why did some Jews feel that the Jewish community should remain uninvolved in press coverage of the case while others felt strongly about speaking out?
- Adolph Ochs’ campaign of support for Frank backfired. Do you think that he made a mistake by taking on the case as a “crusade”? Why or why not?
- What is populism? How did Tom Watson take advantage of populist feelings in his campaign against Frank?
- What role did money and class play in media coverage of the Frank case? How do these issues play out in the media today? Do you think today’s press is more biased toward the “haves” or “have-nots”? Explain.