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Sunday Stories: Strange Fruit

Sunday, February 7, 2021 | 10–10:30am

ADMISSION: This online program is free

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2021-02-07 10:00:00 UTC2021-02-07 23:00:00 UTC America/Los_AngelesThe CJM - 736 Mission St, San Francisco, CASunday Stories: Strange FruitOne of history’s most iconic and impactful songs, "Strange Fruit" was written by a white Jewish high school teacher from the Bronx. Abe Meeropol wrote the poem in response to a photograph of a lynching. After it appeared in the union publication New York Teacher, he set the lyrics to music, and it ultimately fell into the hands of the great Billie Holiday. In this installment of Sunday Stories honoring Black History Month, discover the story behind one of the twentieth century’s most powerful protest songs.
About the talk

One of history’s most iconic and impactful songs, "Strange Fruit" was written by a white Jewish high school teacher from the Bronx. Abe Meeropol wrote the poem in response to a photograph of a lynching. After it appeared in the union publication New York Teacher, he set the lyrics to music, and it ultimately fell into the hands of the great Billie Holiday. In this installment of Sunday Stories honoring Black History Month, discover the story behind one of the twentieth century’s most powerful protest songs.

Trigger warning: Please note that this episode contains graphic images of racial violence.

About the Exhibition

Black Sabbath: The Secret Musical History of Black-Jewish Relations is a musical journey through a unique slice of recording history—the Black-Jewish musical encounter from the 1930s to the 1960s. In contrast to the oft-told story of how Jewish songwriters and publishers of Tin Pan Alley and Broadway transformed Black spirituals, blues, and jazz into the Great American Songbook, scant attention has been paid to the secret history of the many Black responses to Jewish music, life, and culture. From Johnny Mathis singing “Kol Nidre” to Aretha Franklin's 1960s take on “Swanee,” visitors learned how Black artists treated Jewish music as a resource for African American identity, history, and politics.

Lena Horne
Lena Horne. Image courtesy Michael Ochs Archives, Getty Images.