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Strange Fruit Summary & Analysis
by Abel Meeropol

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"Strange Fruit," written by Jewish schoolteacher Abel Meeropol in 1937, takes a harrowing and unflinching look at American racism. The poem specifically focuses on the horrific lynchings that took place primarily across the American South, in which black individuals were brutally tortured and murdered—and often strung up from trees to be gawked at—by white supremacists. The "strange fruit" of the poem's title refers to these lynching victims, the gruesome image of "black bodies" hanging from "southern trees" serving as a stark reminder of humanity's potential for violence as well as the staggering cost of prejudice and hate. The poem became most famous as a song performed by Billie Holiday in 1939 and played a significant role in the Civil Rights Movement. It has been covered by many artists since, including Nina Simone.

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