The Impact of Song


Darlene J. Harris, Author, Speaker, Writer, and Coach

Strange Fruit”

“Strange Fruit” a poem, and a song that took on a life of its own during the time when lynching was OH so real for many families!


Per Robert Meeropol, the author of “Strange Fruit” “Lynching was considered a sport in some ways.”

A glimpse at the history of a song made famous

In 1978, Billy Holiday’s version of the song was inducted into theGrammy Hall of Fame.[6] 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. Lyricist E. Y. Harburg referred to the song as a “historical document”.[4]

It was also dubbed, “a declaration of war … the beginning of the Civil Rights Movement” by record producer Ahmet Ertegun.[4] 

The song was highly regarded and the 1939 record sold a million copies, in time becoming Billy Holiday’s biggest-selling record. Billie Holiday.

On June 15, 2005, the United States Senate has now come, after, I think, close to 200 attempts, with a sincere apology and regret through a resolution (and really an apology to the victims and the descendants of those victims) to say that we had a chance to act when the chips were down and we chose not to do so. And, we had a chance to make America better and we chose not to do that, so we regret that, and we offer our sincere apologies for that. Impact of Senate’s Apology for Legacy of Lynching S.Res. 39 (109th): Lynching Victims Senate Apology resolution

In October 1939, Samuel Grafton of The New York Post described “Strange Fruit”: “If the anger of the exploited ever mounts high enough in the South, it now has its Marseillaise.” [44]

The Impact

I chose “Strange Fruit” because I’ve always liked the song but wanted to know more about the song and the impact it had on so many lives, including my own. My family is a Southern-bred family from Alabama. My mother and aunt took me south to visit family in June every year. Some stops were in towns where the black passengers weren’t allowed to eat in the same restaurant as white passengers. I don’t remember asking why we couldn’t eat or go to the same bathroom as (everyone else.) However, knowing me, I probably did!

My Uncle, L. D. Daniel, did not travel with us often, but when he did, he would drive, and he made his famous announcement. His announcement was understood and very clear “I will only stop to buy gas, so go to the bathroom when I stop.” I never asked why. I never thought of my uncle as a fearful man yet I didn’t know anything about his experiences as a young black man growing up in the south. My aunt would pack a lunch, and we ate in the car. Why? Because L. D. Daniel was serious “I’m not stopping for anything but gas.”

Through researching “Strange Fruit,” I learned about some of the histories behind lynching. I looked at pictures of lynchings that crushed my heart. I could hear the terror through the headlines and the articles. I studied the picture that impacted Meeropoll causing him to write a song that would touch the heart of many. We cannot deny the words in the song “Strange Fruit” that cut through to the truth. We cannot deny the loss of children, dreams, and legacies which were part of the senseless act of lynching. “Strange Fruit” serves as a reminder of a terrorizing event in American History. Lynching is the result of free will gone awry.

For me, “Strange Fruit” brings forth a heart filled with sorrow because the loss suffered affects all Americans. We will never know the total impact of lynching on America.

I had to look at what I could walk away with from all the pictures, and information I found as I researched “Strange Fruit.” Could I walk away with something from lynching to fill my heart with thanksgiving and not the anger that often surfaced? “Yes.”

  • I found the strength to move forward through the anger that rose up in my heart.

  • I gained new courage from a time long ago.

  • I found a new endurance.

  • I gained insight from a terrorized people who suffered for me.

  • I gained a new respect for what it means to survive.

Most of all, I may have gotten a glimpse of why L. D. Daniel, my uncle, seldom traveled south and when he did, he only stopped for gas. It is hard to find thankfulness in the lynching of people but what I do know is that God is never surprised by the way we chose to use the free will He gifted to all. God was present for those who died and suffered. I know God has a plan and will work all the suffering of lynching together for His good!

Strange Fruit publishing rights belong to Music Sales Creative



4 thoughts on “The Impact of Song Leave a comment

  1. Wow! Darlene! This article is very important to me. Thank you for putting it out there and for the links it led to. Very important. wjz

    On Thu, Feb 14, 2019 at 2:22 AM Darlene J. Harris Speaker, Writer, Author, Coach wrote:

    queendjh posted: ” Darlene J. Harris, Author, Speaker, Writer, and Coach > “Strange Fruit” “Strange Fruit” a poem, and a song that took on a life of > its own during the time when lynching was OH so real for many families! > Per Robert Meeropol, the author of “Strange” >

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Your superb article about “Strange Fruit” (which Time magazine named the “song of the century” in 1999) becomes even more mesmerizing if you explore a bit of the history of Abel Meeropol, the author of “Strange Fruit” who wrote it under his pseudonym Lewis Allan.

    Meeropol was a white Jewish guy from the Bronx who also happened to be a member of the American Communist Party which supported civil rights at the height of the McCarthy era. In 1953, he and his wife, Anne, took into their home and eventually adopted brothers Robert and Michael (who were just 6 and 10 years old at the time) shortly after their parents’ funeral. Their parents, of course, were Julius and Ethel Rosenberg–both sent to the electric chair for conspiring to give atomic bomb secrets to the Soviet Union in what was called “The Crime of the Century.”

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Hi Dennis,
      I always enjoy your comments I wrote two articles, and the first one included all the information you shared. But then I rewrote the article which is what you’ve read. I was fascinated by Abel Meeropol and all that he accomplished. Especially about him and his wife adopting the boys of Julius and Ethel Rosenberg. He wrote several plays, and I viewed The House I Live In starring Frank Sinatra. Thank you again for your support!

      Liked by 1 person

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