"Strange Fruit" by Billie Holiday
Holiday's "Strange Fruit" became an emblematic protest anthem in the mid-1900s. The lyrics, which depict the lynchings of Black people, shook the country's ethos so strongly that it was named the song of the century by Time magazine in 1999. Sadly, Holiday's powerful track made her targeted by the government — specifically Federal Bureau of Narcotics commissioner Harry Anslinger, who was a known racist. Anslinger's persistent efforts to thwart Holiday's platform and career eventually led to her untimely death in 1959, but her indestructible legacy has continued to live on.
- "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."
- "Pastoral scene of the gallant south / The bulging eyes and the twisted mouth / Scent of magnolias, sweet and fresh / Then the sudden smell of burning flesh."