On June 23, 2019, my sister, Phyllis Phagan and I attended the “Historic Jewish Atlanta Tour: The Leo Frank Case” presented by Van Pearlberg, Deputy Attorney General and former Marietta City Councilman. This would be the first time my sister ever attended an event with me regarding “Little Mary.” My sister made me promise to “keep my mouth shut” but allowed me to “mutter” under my breath if Van Pearlberg started to propagandize the case.
Van Pearlberg stated he was not an expert although most people tout him as one of the foremost experts on the Frank case. The lecture lasted approximately two hours and you know I muttered — in fact the person seating next to me said “You sound very knowledgeable about this case.” I whispered my relationship to Little Mary Phagan and shared by book information with her.
After the lecture, Van Pearlberg took questions and always, I mean always the first question was:”What does the Phagan family think?” Phyllis literally jumped up from her seat and said “We are here, we are right here!” I was in utter shock! What possessed her to do this? Phyllis told me she thought the lecture was informative, definitely pro-Frank, and for the first time she realized she felt a strong connection to Little Mary!! What an awesome experience for both of us!
As were leaving, a reporter approached Phyllis and gave her a card — Phyllis said “You need to discuss with her not me, my sister is the expert!” Jennifer Britt is a reporter for the Atlanta Journal Constitution and a friend of Van Pearlberg. We interviewed at the Marietta History Center and then headed to Little Mary Phagan’s grave site. Something struck my heart: Very rarely does anyone ask about Mary and her short life. That is why we put a plaque next to Mary’s grave.
Link to the AJC article and online interview: I have questions, do you? Please submit and they will be answered with facts!