By Sally Ollove, Literary Manager
Following the events depicted in Parade, Georgia saw the rise of two organizations, dedicate to cross-purposes.
A call for the revival of the Ku Klux Klan appeared on the front page of The Jeffersonian, a weekly newspaper published by vigorous anti-Semite Thomas Watson a few weeks after the lynching. The KKK had been dormant, though not forgotten, since it had disbanded in 1869. Watson claimed to be reacting to what he saw as the biased coverage of Northern media of a Southern affair: “The North can rail itself hoarse, if it chooses to do so, but if [it] doesn’t quit meddling with our business and getting commutations for assassins and rapists who have pull, another Ku Klux Klan may be organized to restore HOME RULE” (1915). A man named William Joseph Simmons answered the call, circulating a petition seeking a charter for the Klan. Allegedly, several men who participated in the lynching of Leo Frank (who called themselves “The Knights of Mary Phagan”) signed the petition and joined.
Meanwhile, following the Frank lynching, about half of Georgia’s Jewish population fled the state. Many who stayed doubled-down on assimilation efforts, doing as much as possible to escape notice. The president of B’nai B’rith, a Jewish service organization in which Leo Frank had been active prior to his indictment, troubled by what happened to Leo, invited 15 members in Chicago to form the Anti-Defamation League. The ADL’s charter lays out its purpose: “The immediate object of the League is to stop, by appeals to reason and conscience and, if necessary, by appeals to law, the defamation of the Jewish people. Its ultimate purpose is to secure justice and fair treatment to all citizens alike and to put an end forever to unjust and unfair discrimination against and ridicule of any sect or body of citizens.” A reaction to attacks on Jews across the country, the Leo Frank trial was mentioned specifically in the remarks announcing the formation of the ADL.