In 1937, after seeing a photo depicting the lynching of a black man in the South, Bronx-born high school teacher Abel Meeropol wrote a poem entitled “Strange Fruit” that begins with the words: “Southern trees bear a strange fruit. Blood on the leaves and blood at the root.” He set the poem to music and a few years later Billy Holiday recorded it in a legendary heartbreaking performance. The film intertwines jazz genealogy, biography, performance footage, and the history of lynching.
Credit: Directed and produced by Joel Katz. Distributed by California Newsreel, 2002. 57 min.
Grade Level: 2-4, 5-6, 7-9, 10-12