Strange Fruit by Billie Holiday on the Kyle Phoenix Blog


Years ago, writing a science fiction tale (later incorporated into a short story for Escapades) I used pieces of this haunting song. Most people don't know that it was written by two Jewish fellows. "Strange Fruit" was originated as a poem written by American writer, teacher and songwriter Abel Meeropol, under his pseudonym Lewis Allan, as a protest against lynchings. In the poem, Meeropol expressed his horror at lynchings, inspired by Lawrence Beitler's photograph of the 1930 lynching of Thomas Shipp and Abram Smith in Marion, Indiana. He published the poem under the title "Bitter Fruit" in 1937 in The New York Teacher, a union magazine. Though Meeropol had asked others (notably Earl Robinson) to set his poems to music, he set "Strange Fruit" to music himself. His protest song gained a certain success in and around New York. Meeropol, his wife, and black vocalist Laura Duncan performed it at Madison Square Garden.
Meeropol cited this photograph of the lynching of Thomas Shipp and Abram Smith, August 7, 1930, as inspiring his poem

What it reminds me of most, is that humans unify, no matter apparent skin color, religion, creed, etc. to point out the horrors of discrimination.  We should never forget that all humans are allies.

Kyle Phoenix

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