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Directed by Joel Katz

United States 2002 56 mins.

While many people assume Strange Fruit was written by Billie Holiday, it actually began as a poem by a Jewish schoolteacher and union activist from the Bronx, who later set it to music. Disturbed by a photograph of a lynching, Abel Meeropol wrote the stark verse and brooding melody about the horror of lynching under the pseudonym Lewis Allan in 1938. It was brought to the attention of the manager of a popular Greenwich Village nightclub, who introduced Billy Holiday to the writer. Meeropol, who also wrote such classics as Frank Sinatra’s The House I Live In, later adopted the sons of “atom bomb spies” Julius and Ethel Rosenberg after their 1953 execution.