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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.



The Northwest Film Center recognizes and honors the Indigenous peoples of this region on whose ancestral lands the museum now stands. These include the Willamette Tumwater, Clackamas, Kathlemet, Molalla, Multnomah and Watlala Chinook Peoples and the Tualatin Kalapuya who today are part of the Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde, and many other Native communities who made their homes along the Columbia River. We also want to recognize that Portland today is a community of many diverse Native peoples who continue to live and work here. We respectfully acknowledge and honor all Indigenous communities—past, present, future—and are grateful for their ongoing and vibrant presence.