Friends of Radio Diaries,
“Strange Fruit: Voices of a Lynching” is our most recent radio
documentary. It just aired on NPR’s All Things Considered
this past Friday (8/6), and it’s currently the #1 most recommended
and #2 most commented story on npr.org. If you didn’t hear the
documentary, it’s now on our podcast and website: www.radiodiaries.org
“Here is a fruit for the crows to pluck, for the rain to gather, for the
wind to suck, for the sun to rot, for a tree to drop. Here is a strange
and bitter crop.”
Poet and songwriter Abel Meeropol wrote that lament after seeing a
photograph of two black teenagers hanging from a tree. Strange Fruit
was later made famous by Billie Holiday. The lynching occurred 80
years ago in Marion, Indiana.
The documentary tells the story of one of the most iconic lynchings in
American History. This is a difficult story to hear, but we think it’s an
important one. When we started researching the event, we were already
familiar with the famous photograph and, of course, the song. But
we knew almost nothing about the third boy, who escaped being lynched
that day. James Cameron is believed to be the only African-American to
to have survived a lynching. Cameron died in 2006 at the age of 92.
We were also given access to a box of cassette tapes, recorded four
decades ago and kept in a basement, that contain interviews with
people who witnessed and took part in the events of that day. What’s
remarkable about these interviews is that they are a reminder of how
ordinary it all was. Ordinary people in an ordinary town.
We hope you will listen,
Joe Richman, Anayansi Diaz-Cortes, and Samara Freemark
To hear the documentary and to see the famous photograph
of the Marion, Indiana lynching visit www.radiodiaries.org
Strange Fruit: Voices of a Lynching is a Radio Diaries Production
and part of the Audio History Project
Produced by Joe Richman and Anayansi Diaz-Cortes with Samara
Freemark, Annie Baer, Deborah George and Ben Shapiro.
Special thanks to James Madison, author of “A Lynching in the
Heartland”, Virgil Cameron, Indiana-Purdue University Archive,
Fresh Air, and Wisconsin Public Television.
Support for Radio Diaries and the Audio History Project comes from
the National Endowment for the Humanities, the National Endowment
for the Arts, the MacArthur Foundation, and listeners like you.
You can hear all Radio Diaries stories at www.radiodiaries.org
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