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.
This was written by Alex Meerspol in Bronx, N.Y., in 1937. Billy Holiday sang it at the West 4th Street Café, and she did it as her last song for the next 20 years.
After the Civil War Plessy v. Ferguson, the KKK was organized and became very strong. During that time, they lynched some 2,600 Black boys and men. Congress has tried many times to respond to this legacy of terror by pushing an anti-lynching bill but has always failed.
Recently the House finally passed a bill to make lynching a federal crime. Sen. Mitch McConnell and Sen. Rand Paul – both from Kentucky – are working together to stop the bill in the Senate. And today the killing goes on.
Over the past month, amid renewed racial upheaval, six Black people have been found hanging from trees across the country.
Authorities have ruled them all suicides, despite the suspicions of psychological scholars, activists and family members of the deceased.
Fanny Lou Hammer said, “I am sick and tired of being sick and tired.”
I am tired of being Black.
I cry for the enslaved people who were tied to the bottom of the ships for 40 days.
I cry for the enslaved people who worked 246 years and were beaten, tortured, and raped.
I cry for the enslaved people who fought for their freedom with the promise of 40 acres and a mule that they did not receive.
I cry for Black boys like my brother, who fought and died in wars for this country while remaining second-class citizens at home.
I cry for the 100 years of Jim Crow laws we’ve endured.
I cry when the police kill us for no reason … sleeping, jogging, a $20 debt, playing with a toy gun in the park.
The weight of being Black in America is too heavy. I am exhausted.
This America turns its back on the plight of the Black man while professing its rights for the white man. It snuffs out every ounce of dignity from people of color then wonders why they march and riot.
Where are the answers? Why is America the way it is?
But even more importantly, why does a nation with a majority of Christian teaching followers not desire change? Not desire humanity?
I don’t know.