Strange Fruit: Documentary About Billie Holiday

“Strange Fruit” is a term that refers to the legacy of lynching in the U.S., and it’s the title of a documentary exploring the history and legacy of the Billie Holiday’s classic song by the same name. [wrong video clip – removed. JD]
Lady Day (Columbus, Ohio)
Creative Commons License photo credit: moniquewingard

The film tells part of the story of race in America through the evolution of this song’s evolution. The saga brings viewers face- to- face with the terror of lynching even as it spotlights the courage and heroism of those who fought for racial justice when to do so was to risk ostracism and livelihood if white – and death if Black. It examines the history of lynching, and the interplay of race, labor and the left, and popular culture as forces that would give rise to the Civil Rights Movement.

The film’s distributor, California Newsreel, is offering a limited time (through end of November) free preview of the entire film, here. Highly recommended for those teaching race, gender, popular culture, American Studies, and for any one who wants to learn more about racial violence and resistance to it through art.


  1. Herschel

    In this video, it says that Holiday experienced social racism. Although she never experienced the more extreme racism of the deep south, she was still affected. The racism today is also social racism, although more covert, it needs to be recognized as such in popular culture. This song indeed has relevance today, and I would like to hear what kind of songs people are putting out about race today that can reach such a big audience. We as a culture are trying to hide race and racism, but it wont be fixed unless we bring the problem to the forefront of today’s culture.


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