ICYMI: A thorough and personal reflection from RFC Founder Robert Meeropol about his father Abel Meeropol and his anti-lynching protest song "Strange Fruit." This is a recording from the World Fellowship Center's June 28th virtual event, "Strange Fruit: the Inside Story" covering the history and origin of the song, as well as its cultural impact over time. Stick around, too, for a lively discussion generated during the Q&A!
An alternative anthem that we love from Activist Artist, Jean Rohe: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ay1iC1zt24A.
Lyrics, with gratitude to Dr. Martin Luther King and Abel Meeropol, via Billie Holiday, provided by the artist:
Atlantic and Pacific flow
The Great Lakes and the Gulf of Mexico
The land between sustains us all
To cherish it, our tireless call
Strange Fruit Mention of the Day: The lyrics to "Strange Fruit" were not subtle; the song's author Abel Meeropol juxtaposed the "pastoral scene of the gallant south" against graphic depictions of lynching, which the article describes as a "sickening historical tale."
According to PBS, Billie Holiday began performing "Strange Fruit" live at Cafe Society in NYC and would end her show with it each night ("nothing could follow it"). Even today, the song "has the power to startle," still unnervingly resonant with "a legacy of violence, hurt and fear" the U.S. has yet to overcome.
Artists as Activists Mention of the Day: The latest from V (formerly Eve Ensler), author of "The Vagina Monologues," and an RFC advisory board member. A powerful take on how societies the world wide have enabled a "severe setback to women's liberation" during the chaos of the pandemic. Just as with "disaster capitalism," V says, disaster patriarchy takes "full advantage of the virus to reclaim power" because, indeed, patriarchy "has never been truly deconstructed, and like an untreated virus it will return with a vengeance when the conditions are ripe."
Artists as Activists Mention of the Day: In his fascinating review of Aaron Leonard's new book, The Folk Singers and the Bureau: The FBI, the Folk Artists and the Suppression of the Communist Party, USA—1939–1956, Mat Callahan explores the targeting of political organizers (including Ethel & Julius Rosenberg) and artists (including Billie Holiday & her performance of "Strange Fruit") and the contradiction inherent in this repression of activist artists.