In 1937, after seeing a photo depicting the lynching of a black man in the south, Bronx-born high school teacher Abel Meeropol wrote a poem entitled "Strange Fruit" that begins with the ... See full summary »



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Dorothy Thigpen ...
Narrator (voice)
Himself, Commodore Records (as Milt Gabler)
Farah Jasmine Griffin ...
Herself, writer and educator
C.T. Vivian ...
Himself, reverend and veteran civil rights activist
E.M. 'Woody' Beck ...
Himself, sociologist
Abbey Lincoln ...
Herself, singer and composer
Michael Denning ...
Himself, historian
Amina Baraka ...
Herself, poet and performer
Amiri Baraka ...
Himself, poet and playwright
Bernie Kassoy ...
Himself, retired teacher and visual artist
Henry Foner ...
Himself, retired teacher and union activist
Honey Kassoy ...
Herself, retired teacher and visual artist
Michael Meeropol ...
Himself, adopted son of Abel Meeropol
Robert Meeropol ...
Himself, adopted son of Abel Meeropol (as Robby Meeropol)
Jeffrey Melnick ...
Himself, historian (as Jeff Melnick)


In 1937, after seeing a photo depicting the lynching of a black man in the south, Bronx-born high school teacher Abel Meeropol wrote a poem entitled "Strange Fruit" that begins with the words: "Southern trees bear a strange fruit / Blood on the leaves and blood at the root." He set the poem to music and a few years later convinced Billy holiday to record it in a legendary heartbreaking performance. Intertwining jazz genealogy, biography, performance footage, and the history of lynching, director Joel Katz fashions a fascinating discovery of the lost story behind a true American classic. Written by Excerpted from Coolidge Corner Theatre Program Update

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis







Release Date:

May 2002 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Outo hedelmä  »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


Atlanta Jewish Film Festival, Documentary Award Winner: 2003 See more »


Features The House I Live In (1945) See more »

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User Reviews

14 July 2004 | by (Seattle, WA-USA) – See all my reviews

This is truly one of the most intriguingly rich documentaries I have ever seen illuminated on the screen. I was fortunate enough to catch it at The Seattle Film festival a couple of years ago and have been looking for the DVD ever since. Where might this be? I know it received several awards and can't imagine why it has not been released yet._THIS IS A GEM NOT TO BE LOST!!! "Strange Fruit" very masterfully combines History, Biography, and Jazz Music. It starts with the simple premise of a song, "Strange Fruit", which Bronx-born school teacher-Abel Merepol wrote the lyrics for and jazz diva Billie Holliday later made famous. Although there was some conflict about whom should have rightfully received credit for this song "back in the day" (I will not reveal too much),-the fact that the writer was Jewish and the singer African American helps us to understand the sensitivity of the lyrics themselves as the story unfolds a rich -if previously unspoken-tapestry of the American Soul- revealed to us via one of the greatest of all American contributions-jazz music!!! This documentary is a powerful acknowledgment of the people and history that gave us this legacy and to whom we owe much recognition. I think the viewer will find themselves glued to their seat as the behind-the-scenes story of the 30's and 40's New York Jazz scene/its venues unfolds with the music. I WOULD LOVE TO SEE THIS ON DVD!!! Any info out there on a planned DVD release?

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