Dear Ms. Cupid:
In the era when lynching peaked, 1880-1920, the most dangerous accusation toward any black man was “he raped/killed a white girl or woman.”.
And that is exactly what Leo Frank did, and his legal-eagle lawyers, and the Jewish-owned newspapers both in Georgia and up north as well.
From saying “the poor negroes” it was suddenly Jim Conley, quote, “the drunken brute of a negro” and the all-white and male jury was inundated — patronizingly — with racial references by Luther Rosser and Reuben Arnold, but they were not buying the race card this time..
The white South actually did itself proud this time, and so did one African-American.
For the first time ever, a white businessman, the Jewish Leo Frank, was condemned to the gallows largely –but not completely — on the testimony of a black man, and a janitor at that, not one of the Howard University or Morehead College black elite types.
The race card failed because
1) Frank was clearly guilty, and
2) the African-American janitor, Jim Conley far-right on the witness stand), withstood brilliantly eight hours of brutal cross-examination by the Frank defense team (standing, left of center).
Conley was forced by fear of Frank (and of being framed as a black man by him for the rape-murder of a white girl) to cooperate briefly with his murderous boss, but as soon as he could, he got away. He refused to return and “dispose of the body,” and what Frank wanted was for him to chop up the body of Mary Phagan and feed it into the furnace, Jim Conley refused, and stayed away from work for a whole day.
And when Jim saw her lying there dead, her little hands frozen in rigor mortis, he put them down gently, folding them across her chest in reverence for the dead girl, whom everyone had liked.
20 years afterward, Jim Conley had the cleanness of conscience and the sorrow at her death to come to visit the family of Mary Phagan, yes, of the next of kin. No rapist-murderer would ever dare face the suspicious family of the victim and dare look into their angry eyes — and especially not a black man, not into the eyes of furious white men in 1930s Georgia. There was still plenty of lynching in the 1930s.
But they knew from the trial already that Jim was innocent and he was there on a personal mission to tell them what he had seen and felt that day.
In the book by Mary’s great-niece, of Marietta, but now living in Ellijay, she described how Jim Conley visited her family. (Again, would a rapist do that?) He did it because, though no angel, Jim was a decent human being.
From page 27-halfway down 31
Then Grandfather said, “Jim, I believe you because if I didn’t I’d kill you myself.” Then, my father recalls clearly, Grandfather and Jim Conley went out together for a drink.
Ms. Cupid, there were only two men near Mary when she was raped and killed: Jim Conley and Leo Frank.
If Frank did not do it, then Conley did. To exonerate Frank is to point the terrible finger of accusation, 102 years later, at a black man who can no longer brilliantly defend himself, as he did for eight hours on the witness stand in July-Augst 1913, a man who was 100% innocent, so clearly innocent that in 1913 Atlanta a “negro janitor” was believed over a white businessman.
That is how clear it was that Conley was innocent.
Now I am bashed as a white supremacist; that is like all the other lies spread by the biggest supremacists in the world, the same ones who took down Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney.
I am the one who wrote this:
This is me with my friend Jim Rawls.
I hope you will vote not to make Jim Conley guilty, because if you make Frank innocent, Conley must be the murderer, and he cared about Mary, grieved for her death, and felt pity for her sorrowing family, still in tears over her terrible death two decades later.
John de Nugent