That same year a New York City schoolteacher, union activist and composer named Abel Meerpool showed a song he had written to Billie Holiday (born Eleanora Fagen), who was already a well-known jazz vocalist.
Strange Fruit was a poem written by Abel Meeropol, a Jewish high-school teacher from the Bronx, about the lynching of two black men. He published under the pen name Lewis Allan.
- Strange Fruit
- Southern trees bear 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,
- 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.
Holiday’s label, Columbia, refused to record the song, so she recorded it under another label. Some radio stations refused to play it, but Holiday continued to sing it for the rest of her life—some say to the detriment of her career.
Live Footage of one of the firtst anti rascism songs ever