Blues project 2014: black and blue the fight for freedom

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After the emancipation of slaves in 1865, groups of southern whites began forming organizations to terrorize the colored people in the south, to be sure everyone remembered who was in still in charge.  The most famous of these organizations was the Ku Klux Klan.  Although the Klan operated initially in the south, its message of racial purity intolerance spread around the country.  In fact, by the 1920’s, Indiana claimed the dubious honor of having the largest Klan organization in the US.  1930, two black men were lynched not far from here in Marion, Indiana.  The pictures of the lynching, taken by reporters, wound up in New York, where a Jewish teacher was so affected by the photograph that he composed the song “Strange Fruit.”  His wife was a singer, and together they performed it in New York, but it wasn’t until  jazz singer Billie Holliday got a hold of it that it reached a national audience.  Billie Holliday risked her life and her career by not only recording but performing this song, and it turned out to be the biggest selling record of her amazing career.  The song's imagery - lifeless black corpses hanging from trees like fruit - was haunting and powerful. Most importantly, in 1939, it at least got white Americans to sit up and pay attention instead of turning a blind eye to what was going on. Strange Fruit was not the first protest song, but unlike the anthems of union workers and folk singers before it, it was the first protest song to cross over into the entertainment world and be recognized as art.  In 1999, in fact, Time magazine named it the song of the century.  
                    Introduce: Ava Massarella - vocals

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