Tools and Strategies

The People v. Leo Frank

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The People v. Leo Frank, a 2009 film by Ben Loeterman Productions, vividly brings to life one of the most fascinating criminal cases in American history: the 1913 murder of a child laborer, Mary Phagan, and the trial and lynching of the Jewish factory supervisor accused of her murder, Leo Frank. Set against the backdrop of an American South struggling to shed its legacy of bigotry and xenophobia, The People v. Leo Frank is both a first-rate murder mystery and a compelling look at racial, religious, regional and class prejudices in the early years of the 20th century. Watch the film.

ADL is proud to present the Teacher's Guide to accompany The People v. Leo Frank. The guide provides instructional materials that help high school educators to explore the intersection of various forms of oppression and the complexity of bias incidents at the center of the Leo Frank case in four topic areas:

  1. Antisemitism and Religious Bigotry
  2. Racism and Race Relations
  3. Regional and Class Tensions
  4. The Power of the Press

Each topic area includes guided review of film clips with discussion questions, student readings, extension activities and research ideas, investigation of primary source materials, as well as correlation to national educational standards.

Students will emerge from their study of the Leo Frank case with an understanding of the ways in which anti-Semitism, racism and other social forces shaped life in the post-Reconstruction and Jim Crow South. More importantly, students will also increase their awareness about the dangers of stereotyping and bigotry in today's world, and the importance of speaking out against bias and prejudice of all kinds.

" of the most notorious criminal dramas in American history comes back to life as a documentary.”—Atlanta Journal Constitution