The classic Billie Holiday recording is a fitting accompaniment to the Equal Justice Initiative’s investigation of our nation’s history of racial violence.
Grammy-nominated singer and songwriter Andra Day released a new music video Friday for her version of “Strange Fruit,” the classic song originally recorded by Billie Holiday in 1939.
The new recording is part of the “Lynching in America” project, a multi-year investigation by the Equal Justice Initiative of the more than 4,000 reported lynching that took place between Reconstruction and World War II.
The powerful video displays images of southern landscapes spliced with shots of a singing Day with flowers in her hair, an obvious nod to Holiday. By the end of the video, it is clear the shots of these seemingly peaceful places were the locations where actual lynchings took place. Day ends the video by displaying the names of those victims in a moving form of remembrance.
The “Lynching in America” project is meant to spark conversation about the country’s dark history of racial violence against Black bodies. For their part, Google has provided over $2 million in grants to the initiative, as well as support to digitize the massive project. The goal is for as many people as possible to access this part of American history.
Day will also be performing the song as part of her set at the Global Citizens Festival in NYC on Sept. 23.
You can visit the “Lynching in America” project here.
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