Strange Fruit: The African American Civil Rights Movement

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For centuries African Americans have used music as a voice for their struggles and protests. Although as the country has changed and the problems continue to change as well, voices of protest have remained a consistent method in publicizing issues faced by African Americans. Billie Holiday, Sam Cooke, J. Cole, and Lil Wayne are just a few African American artists who have raised concern pertaining to issues faced by the African American population. The civil rights movement brought about numerous protests. Although various methods were used, music was undoubtedly one of the most captivating. Despite the black community being granted rights by the government African Americans during this time period faced segregation, inequality, violence,…show more content…
“Strange Fruit” captivated the minds of Americans all over, although the song pertained mainly to the unbearable conditions that African Americans in the south endured. This jazz tune endows warmth in its tune that allows for it to draw in an audience while relaying the darkness and sadness that was the south. The song critiques lynching and the very prevalent racism that was beyond abundant during the civil rights era. The line "Southern trees bear a strange fruit, blood on the leaves and blood at the root..." is used to represent the unbelievable anguish and horror experienced by communities affected by lynching. “Strange Fruit” arguably marked the beginning of the civil rights era. This song forced Americans to face a reality so grim that those who had previously turned a blind eye had no choice but to face the issues. Blood was not only shed on the leaves, but also found in the roots showing that the hatred has always been there. This song was able to present a visualization of lifeless bodies hanging “black bodies swinging in the summer breeze” an image that certainly shocked an audience while encouraging reflection. At the same time it brought contrast to the perfect world in which southern whites thought they were living “scent of magnolias, sweet and fresh then the sudden smell of burning flesh” again presenting imagery hard to ignore. While Billie Holiday focused on the horrors of the time other artists such as Sam Cooke used music as a source of

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