This lesson focuses on Billie Holiday's signature song, "Strange Fruit," a protest song Lewis Allen (Abel Meeropol) wrote in 1938 about the ongoing and intransigent problem of lynching in the American South. After asking students to assess the role music plays in their own lives, the lesson introduces some background information about lynching.
The bulk of the lesson is document-based. Working in small teams, students analyze a variety of primary source materials related to lynching (news articles, letters written to or written by prominent Americans, pamphlets, broadsides, etc.) in order to assess the effectiveness of the anti-lynching campaign spearheaded by African-Americans. The documents themselves, which span 1893-1940, are a moving testament to the tragedy wrought by lynchings, as well as to the courage of those who left no stone unturned in trying to find remedies.
Internet links included.