In light of the many thousands of protesters across the country marching, demonstrating, chanting, and singing for justice, we here at the Civil Word thought it only right to take it way back to one of our nations most iconic songs about American oppression and the destruction of black lives.
Strange Fruit was written by Abel Meeropol – a Jewish ally of black rights and a school teacher in New York. Meeropol wrote the song after seeing a picture of a southern lynching. The image haunted him and pushed Meeropol to write Strange Fruit. The lyrics eventually fell into the hands of Billie Holiday who swirls them beautifully with a mesmerizing tone. The rest is history. Video below. The lyrics are below the fold.
To hear more about Meeropol check out this NPR article.
Southern trees bear a strange fruit,
Blood on the leaves and blood at the root,
Black body swinging in the Southern breeze,
Strange fruit hanging from the poplar trees.
Pastoral scene of the gallant South,
The bulging eyes and the twisted mouth,
Scent of magnolia sweet and fresh,
And the sudden smell of burning flesh!
Here is a fruit for the crows to pluck,
For the rain to gather, for the wind to suck,
For the sun to rot, for a tree to drop,
Here is a strange and bitter crop.