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April 04, 2003 - Image 109

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 2003-04-04

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

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Radio stations banned it, but when Billie Holiday (pictured) sang "Strange Fruit,"
the whole world listened anyway.

"That was my experience of black-
often played the song for his father when
Jewish relations," Katz said. "Working on he was an Alzheimer's patient in a nursing
Strange Fruit was a way for me to heal."
home before his death in 1986. "It was
As research, he studied the history of the last thing he recognized," Michael
Jews in jazz and books on some 5,000
Meeropol says in the film.
lynchings that took place
While the response to
in the South from the
the movie on the Jewish
1880s to the 1960s. He
festival circuit has been
perused photographs of
positive, some viewers
the victims — who were
made complaints such as
often hung from a tree,
saying, "While the
set afire and mutilated
blacks have suffered, let's
— taken as souvenirs by
not forget how much we
white observers.
Jews have suffered, too,"
He alSo contacted
Katz takes issue with that
Meeropol's sons by look-
point of vievv. "It's a misun-
ing them up in the tele-
derstanding of who Abel
phone directory in
Meeropol was," he said.
Springfield, Mass., where
"What's remarkable
they were reported to live. Abel Meeropol's "Strange
about Meeropol was his
Fruit" continues to
From the Meeropols,
ability to reach beyond
mesmerize musicians and Jewish suffering, because
Katz learned that the
civil rights advocates.
author of "Strange Fruit"
let's not forget he wrote
was actually a jaunty fel-
the song just as the
low with a thin mustache and a keen
Holocaust was getting under way in
sense of humor.
1938," Katz said.
He discovered that "Lewis Allan"
was a combination of the names
Strange Fruit debuts 10 p.m.
Meeropol and his wife had chosen for
Tuesday on PBS stations nation-
their two stillborn sons. He also
wide; check your local listings.
learned that the songwriter had an
Detroit Public Television will air
almost visceral aversion to racism.
the documentary midnight
Meeropol apparently penned "Strange
Sunday, April 13. Strange Fruit
Fruit" after viewing a photograph of a
will be shown on the big screen 5
lynching victim in a civil rights maga-
p.m. Tuesday, May 6, at the
zine. "I wrote [it] because I hate lynch-
United Artists Theatres at 14 Mile
ing and I hate injustice and I hate the
and Haggerty roads in Commerce
people who perpetrate it," he once said.
Township as part of the Jewish
According to Michael Meeropol, his
Community Center Lenore
father was prouder of "Strange Fruit"
Marwil Jewish Film Festival.
than "of all the things he ever did." He



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