"Strange Fruit" is a song performed most famously by Billie Holiday, who released her first recording of it in 1939, the year she first sang it. Written by the teacher Abel Meeropol as a poem, it condemned American racism, particularly the lynching of African Americans. Such lynchings had occurred chiefly in the South but also in all other regions of the United States. He set it to music and with his wife and the singer Laura Duncan, performed it as a protest song in New York venues, including Madison Square Garden.
The song has been covered by numerous artists, as well as inspiring novels, other poems and other creative works. In 1978 Holiday's version of the song was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame. It was also included in the list of Songs of the Century, by the Recording Industry of America and the National Endowment for the Arts.
"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.
In the poem, Meeropol expressed his horror at lynchings, possibly after having seen Lawrence Beitler's photograph of the 1930 lynching of Thomas Shipp and Abram Smith...