From 1882 – 1998, 4743 murders by lynching occurred in the United States.
Of those victims, 3446 were African-American (72.7%)
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.
by Lewis Allen, written in 1937
Nobody sings it better than Billie Holiday.
The lyrics were so chilling that Holiday later said “The first time I sang it, I thought it was a mistake. There wasn’t even a patter of applause when I finished. Then a lone person began to clap nervously. Then suddenly everyone was clapping and cheering.”
The club owner immediately recognized the impact of the song on his audience and insisted that Holiday close all her shows with it. Just as the song was about to begin, waiters would stop serving, the lights in club would be turned off, and a single pin spotlight would illuminate Holiday on stage. During the musical introduction, Holiday would stand with her eyes closed, as if she were evoking a prayer.
The song was ultimately to become the anthem of the anti-lynching movement.
Fast Forward to Louisiana last week and hear the calls for more lynching:
“Lynch the Jena 6″
Some tell us that subtle racism is the predominant form of racism now.
The United States now finds itself in an era of race relations more complex than in the days of legal segregation. Bigotry then was blatant, so entrenched that it could be shattered ultimately only by the conscience of the country and the hammer of the law. Today, when explicit discrimination is prohibited and blatant racism is no longer fashionable in most circles, much prejudice has gone underground. It may have diminished in some quarters, but it is far from extinct. Like a virus searching for a congenial host, it mutates until it finds expression in a belief, a statement, or a form of behavior that seems acceptable.
Yeah, right. Subtle. Like this: