Tuesday, July 17, 2007

On July 17, ...

... 1959, Billie Holiday, who'd been born Eleanora Fagan in Philadelphia 44 years earlier, died in New York City. The jazz great's work included "Strange Fruit," recorded April 20, 1939, a ballad that brought to tragic life lynchings in America at a time when politicians turned back bids to make the "strange and bitter crop" a federal crime. In a 2005, U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-La.) cited the song in remarks supporting the Senate's apology for its failure to pass an anti-lynching law. (Lyrics are here, and a YouTube video of Holiday performing the work is below.)

1 comment:

Naomi Norberg said...

The timing of this post is incredible. Today's Le Monde has an article entitled L'arbre de la colère (http://www.lemonde.fr/web/article/0,1-0,36-936368,0.html) about a Louisiana high-school "prank" of putting nooses in a tree at school that turned into beatings and threats with guns (by whites on blacks), a fistfight (with a slightly injured white boy) and the resulting conviction, after a trial straight out of To Kill a Mockingbird except that the black public defender provided no defense, of a young black football star for attempted murder with a possible sentence of 22 years in prison. The judge will announce his decision July 31.