1. Read the following story about the history of the poem and song “Strange Fruit” (the song’s lyrics are printed below) written by Abel Meeropol in 1937 and first sung and recorded by Billie Holiday in 1939.
Be sure to watch the video of Billie Holiday singing the song. You will find a YouTube link to the video about half way through the story. (If the link to the Billie Holiday video doesn’t work, try this link https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dnlTHvJBeP0 ):
2. Then, go to the following site and watch the short movie you find there. Additionally, look through all of the pictures. The pictures appear larger on your screen and you can see more detail.
The site contains disturbing, but significant and important, images of lynchings that occured in the United States in the early 20th century.
If you feel that this assignment would be too traumatizing for you, contact me about doing an alternate assignment.
3. After reading and considering these various documents (the NPR story, the song recording by Billie Holiday, and the website Without Sanctuary), write a reflection of what you have read, heard, and viewed. You should specifically consider how the texts collected here influence your understanding of your assigned reading on the Harlem Renaissance from Week 8.
Your response should be 3-4 pages long.
You SHOULD NOT include a traditional intro or conclusion paragraph. Just get to the point(s) you are trying to make.
Your paper should be in proper MLA format: Times New Roman, 12 point font, double spaced with one inch margins, and no extra spaces between paragraphs.
You do not need to format your name date, etc. according to MLA format. Just put your name in the top, left corner, and a title at the top center of the page.
Southern trees bear strange fruit
Blood on the leaves and blood at the root
Black bodies 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 magnolias, sweet and fresh
Then the sudden smell of burning flesh
Here is fruit for the crows to pluck
For the rain to gather, for the wind to suck
For the sun to rot, for the trees to drop
Here is a strange and bitter crop