R&B songstress Andra Day covers Billie Holiday‘s classic song “Strange Fruit,” as part of a partnership with Equal Justice Initiative.
The song was originally performed by Holiday back in 1939, to protest racism, and more importantly, lynchings of African American in the United States. Between 1877 and 1950, over 4,000 African Americans lost their lives to lynching. Fast forward to 2017, the impact of these murders is still a factor, as the new administration has bolstered the descendants of those white supremacists and racial tensions are at boiling point and rumors of attempted lynchings have been circulating.
EJI Director Bryan Stevenson told Billboard, who premiered the video:
“In this collaboration between Andra Day, EJI, and Google, we use music to express a painful and difficult truth about our nation’s history of racial inequality. Inspired music has the power to expose and confront injustice differently than research, data and words alone. It can heal and uplift us; it’s critical for human rights. Justice work needs a soundtrack that inspires the struggle. It’s energizing that talented artists like Andra rise to the challenge.”
The video includes several memorials commemorating lynching sites.
Strange Fruit Lyrics:
Southern trees bear a 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
About Equal Justice Initiative
Earlier this summer, EJI launched Lynching in America, an interactive digital experience created in partnership with Google. The website features EJI’s full report in both digital and downloadable formats, with more data, information, and analysis than was previously available online.