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Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Leo Frank and Today - the Importance of National Knowledge and Support

On Sunday, August 16 at 2 pm, I will join my friend and colleague Rabbi Steve Lebow as we remember Leo Frank.  We do not just remember...we seek exoneration.  You see, in the early morning of August 17, 1915, Leo Frank was brutally lynched for a crime he never committed.  Rather than dwell on all of the ignorance and negativity surrounding this horrific incident, Rabbi Lebow and I prefer and choose to celebrate the "New South, the New Marietta."  This is a Marietta that embraces the other and celebrates our differences.  As a matter of fact, we are all humans and all due the same rights and privileges.  This is our preference - to celebrate and commemorate Leo Frank...and with this, we hope comes exoneration.  It is time to right a wrong and clear his name and reputation.  Although I am 100% in support of this and am extremely excited at the possibilities that lie ahead, I must take a step back and ponder how things would be different if it was today, not 100 years ago.

You see, I click on news article after news article of brutal uses of force today.  In 1915, these shootings or uses of force would have been ignored...or would they have garnered the same kind of national response Leo Frank's case did?  Unfortunately, I do believe that what we are seeing today brings us back 100 years to 1915.  Except, today Leo Frank is a young African American who is accused of crime.  I know, it's a bold statement, but it's true.  You see, Leo Frank was a northern Jewish man who was very much misunderstood in the South.  The problems that industry brought to the South caused many southerners to view Frank as a scapegoat - he represented everything they detested.

Does that sound familiar?  You see, I believe the same ignorance that was rampant in the South 100 years ago is still here today.  If we had twitter 100 years ago, you might see #Jewishlivesmatter.  Well, it's true, ALL LIFE MATTERS.  The African American community has struggled so much in this country and now they are once again fighting against a force that is based in ignorance, or at least partially based in ignorance.

So, there it is.  The same kinds of terror that ran rampant in Georgia in 1915 now runs rampant all over the United States...and this causes so much pain.  There has to be a way we can turn the tide in that we do not continue this trend and find ourselves in another hundred years with a new Leo Frank.  Yes, Black lives matter...White lives matter...Hispanic lives matter...etc.  We all matter.  That's the truth.