Strange Fruit

Posted by Al Hathaway Friday, July 17, 2009

On Friday, July 17, 2009 in Baltimore, MD on the corner of Pennsylvania and Lafayette Avenues, The City of Baltimore will dedicate a new model of a statue honoring Billie Holiday. The location is fitting because much of her early work in Baltimore was associated to the Royal Theatre which once stood across the street.


Billie Holiday is an iconic figure memorialized by Diana Ross in the Motown film depicting her life. Her phasing and melodious voice is still vivid in the minds of many as she sang protest songs, love songs, and ballads. One can almost see the sparks fly as Mr. Louis McKay, played by Billy Dee Williams, steps onto the set with the electricity of a love affair that was debonair and diabolical at the same time. Billie Holiday's greatness was tempered by her self-inflicted inability to cope with her problems.


I commend the City of Baltimore and the artist James Earl Reid for pressing the struggle to depict Billie Holiday in manner that accurately tells the story of her and her times. Indeed when one looks at the deprivation in the community where she presently stands, we are reminded that the strange fruit of yesteryear has produced strange fruit indeed.

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