Southern trees bear a 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,
And the sudden smell of burning flesh!
Here is a fruit for the crows to pluck,
For the rain to gather, for the wind to suck,
For the sun to rot, for a tree to drop,
Here is a strange and bitter crop.
-- Poet and songwriter Abel Meeropol wrote “Strange Fruit,” the haunting song about lynching in America, more than 60 years ago. The first protest song, it was first recorded by the famed jazz singer Billie Holiday in 1939 and dozens of others in the years since.