Strange Fruit

NPR's Radio Diaries - Strange Fruit: Voices of a Lynching - includes recollections of witnesses and participants in the Thomas Shipp and Abraham Smith lynchings.

 Elgin, IL. lynch mob

Elgin, IL. lynch mob

Strange Fruit, originally titled "Bitter Fruit," was first written as a poem by Abel Meeropol and published under the pseudonym Lewis Allan in 1937. Meeropol was a Jewish New Yorker and a socialist haunted by photographs of lynchings in other parts of the country.

The Thomas Shipp and Abraham Smith lynching photo taken in Marion, Indiana on August 7, 1930, by Lawrence Beitler, obsessed Meeropol.  A third man, James Cameron, avoided lynching that day.

Rare live footage of the first great protest song.

 

The Lynching of George Hughes

In one phrase, hostility to the Negro as citizen. Justice is what the Democratic leaders do not want. They want supremacy—absolute despotic control of the Negro—to make him powerless in politics and in the courts of law, so that they can re-establish their old-time control over his labor as far as it is possible after the abolishment of property in man.
— Adelbert Ames, Reconstruction governor of Mississippi, addressing Congress on the aims and feelings of many Southern whites

The charred remains of George Hughes inspired Death (Lynched Figure) by artist, Isamu Noguchi.

 Death (Lynched Figure), 1934. Isamu Noguchi. Monel metal, steel, wood, rope. 88 3/4 x 31 7/8 x 22 1/8 in. Collection of The Isamu Noguchi Foundation and Garden Museum, New York. ©The Isamu Noguchi Foundation and Garden Museum, New York / Artist Rights Society [ARS]. Photo by Sara Wells.   Reproduction, including downloading of Isamu Noguchi works is prohibited by copyright laws and international conventions without the express written permission of Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York.

Death (Lynched Figure), 1934. Isamu Noguchi. Monel metal, steel, wood, rope. 88 3/4 x 31 7/8 x 22 1/8 in. Collection of The Isamu Noguchi Foundation and Garden Museum, New York. ©The Isamu Noguchi Foundation and Garden Museum, New York / Artist Rights Society [ARS]. Photo by Sara Wells.

Reproduction, including downloading of Isamu Noguchi works is prohibited by copyright laws and international conventions without the express written permission of Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York.

THE LYNCHING OF LAURA NELSON AND HER 14-YEAR-OLD SON, L.D.

After shooting and killing a member of the posse searching their farm on May 2, 1911, L.D. and Laura Nelson were held in the Okemah County, Oklahoma jail. On May 25, 2011, a mob kidnapped them from their cells, raped Laura Nelson, then hung her and her son from a railroad bridge over the North Canadian River. It is unknown what happened to Laura Nelson's two-year-old daughter.

Woody Guthrie's father was a member of that mob.

 Spectators, 35 men and six women, are lining up for a photograph, or to look at the bodies, along with 17 children, toddlers to mid-teens. Okemah, Oklahoma, May 1911. Photo by George Henry Farnum

Spectators, 35 men and six women, are lining up for a photograph, or to look at the bodies, along with 17 children, toddlers to mid-teens. Okemah, Oklahoma, May 1911. Photo by George Henry Farnum

The Lynch Quilts Project

The Lynch Quilts Project - LaShawnda Crowe Storm

 

LaShawnda Crowe Storm explores how a work of art grows beyond the mind of the artist, and only truly gains life once released to the hands of the community. The Lynch Quilts Project is a community-based effort that explores the history and ramifications of racial violence in the United States through the textile tradition of quilting.

 
 Her Name was Laura Nelson: Quilt I, 2004. © LaShawnda Crowe Storm, used with permission of the artist. 

Her Name was Laura Nelson: Quilt I, 2004. © LaShawnda Crowe Storm, used with permission of the artist. 

  Wallpaper detail comprised of names of lynched individuals © LaShawnda Crowe Storm, used with permission of the artist. 

 Wallpaper detail comprised of names of lynched individuals © LaShawnda Crowe Storm, used with permission of the artist. 

Saved: A Video Postcard

SAVED: A VIDEO POSTCARD - Kara Lynch

A community memorial project inspired by the 100-year-anniversary of the lynching of Laura and L.D. Nelson. Kara Lynch used public performance to memorialize the brutal rape and lynching.

SAVED: A VIDEO POSTCARD

2015, RT: 7.10min (8 with credits) HD video 1280x720p

This is a video postcard souvenir of our pilot performance of 'saved' at the 145th Street Bridge in Harlem/the Bronx NY Sunday, September 29, 2013.

Immemorial, prompted by the 100th anniversary of the lynching of Laura Nelson and her fourteen year old son, L.W. at the Old Schoolton Bridge in Oklahoma, we will stage sound installation-performances with live local choirs on a series of steel bridges. Folks will gather at these bridges, and together we create a living memorial -- an elegy. A series of postcards constitute the piece’s documentation.

“saved” is an elegy -- a collaborative project with artists, musicians, photographers, filmmakers, arts organizations and the local community. Participants gather together to reenact the original documentary photograph that captured the townspeople of Okemah witnessing the aftermath of the lynching. The New York installment of “saved” features an original score by acclaimed composer, pianist and arranger Courtney Bryan presented by Harlem’s own IMPACT Repertory Theatre and choirs from Convent Avenue Baptist Church, First Corinthian Baptist Church, and Newark’s Bethany Baptist Church. “saved” also presents original choreography by accomplished Stage Director Charlotte Brathwaite. This living memorial links past and present resistance to racial and sexual violence.

With “saved,” kara lynch seeks to restore humanity and dignity to Laura and L.W. Nelson. According to lynch, "This project began with a photograph of a lynching. In this public performance I’m asking, How do we remember? What is reconciliation? How do we memorialize or commemorate our stories and lives as Black people in America? How do we come to terms with violence – and shift somehow? Laura Nelson is the guiding force. Her story is at the center of it. Her lifting off, floating, flying – while sinking points towards resilience, resistance, quiet, horror, beauty – all of this holding us accountable to her story and ours.”

for more information: http://www.acrowdgathers.wordpress.com

video credits //

editor + co-director : Saeun Kim

producer/co-director : k lynch   

photographer : Sonia Paulino

photographer's assistant : Sasha Goldberg

camera crew :
M. Asli Dukan Producer/Director/Video
Mira Steinzor Video
Hilary Basing Video
Sudama Kanchibhotla Video
Shameel Arafin Production Stills
Daniel Johnson Production Stills

sound crew:
JT Takagi Consultant (sound)
Mukama Chinyelum recordist (lead)
Victor Garcia recordist
Thanh Hoang recordist
Jacqueline Wade recordist
Roee Messinger recordist
Christian Baer recordist

project credits //

Creative Partners

IMPACT Repertory Theatre
Carlton T.Taylor Choir Director
Dietrice Bolden Managing Director
Jamal Joseph Executive Artistic Director

Inspirational Ensemble of Convent Avenue Baptist Church Choir
Professor Gregory Hopkins Choir Director
Jodie Rodney Choir secretary
Laura Folque Lead choir member

Rise Choir of First Corinthian Baptist Church
Patrice E. Turner, Ed. D Artist in Residence

Mass Choir of Bethany Baptist Church (Newark, NJ)
Rodney Smith Musician
Lillan Whitaker Minister of Music

Core Collaborators

Producer: Duana Butler
Production Coordinator: Thabi Moyo
Anchor Artist: kara lynch

Portrait Photographer: Sonia Paulino
Composer/Musical Director: Courtney Bryan
Stage Director: Charlotte Brathwaite
Stage Manager: James Gillyard
Stage Manager: Mariana Valencia
Production Associate: Javiera Benevente

production assistants:
Richard Bernard Baldassari
Nicole Alexis Bernstein
Colton Lee Bishop
Antonia Blue-Hitchens
Sebastian Michele Ferreyros
Carroll Irene Gelderman
Douglas Dawson
Gray Kronaizl
Avantika Kumar
Benjamin LeoLerner
Danny Paulino
Alexander Price
Marissa Barbara Savoie
Parida Tantiwasadakran
Fadumo Mowleed Warsame

witnesses:
Michelle Blauschild
Yvette Choy
Cassandra Chrispin
Kathy Couch
Brent Crosson
Asma Feyijinmi
Erin Gray
Henriette Gunkel
Mable Haddock
Ann Holder
Tyehimba Jess
Simone Lueck
Ivan Monforte
Lindsay Reuter
Kay Shaw
Thulla Sutcliffe
imani Uzuri

Constance Vallis Hill

Nyx Zierhut

this project was made possible in part by the Franklin Furnace Fund supported by the Jerome Foundation, the Lambent Foundation, and by public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council; the Hampshire College Faculty Development Fund, and the In-kind contributions from City University of New York Film and Video Department, core collaborators and creative partners.

 Spectators, 35 men and six women, are lining up for a photograph, or to look at the bodies, along with 17 children, toddlers to mid-teens. Okemah, Oklahoma, May 1911. Photo by George Henry Farnum

Spectators, 35 men and six women, are lining up for a photograph, or to look at the bodies, along with 17 children, toddlers to mid-teens. Okemah, Oklahoma, May 1911. Photo by George Henry Farnum

A Timeline of the Dana Schutz Emmett Till Painting Controversy