“Strange Fruit,” composed by Abel Meeropol and made famous by Billie Holiday, is one of the most powerful, moving songs of the 20th century.
In this activity, students will analyze the lyrics of the song “Strange Fruit.” They will then use a table of historical lynching statistics to create a bar graph and a pie chart, while reflecting on the relative merits of these two information-sharing graphics. This activity is multi-disciplinary, incorporating math, history, music, and even poetry skills. It also gives students practice with the vital 21st century skill of information literacy.
Students can complete this activity using the Internet to locate the video of Billie Holiday’s performance and the song’s lyrics (URLs provided on activity sheet), or you could show the video and display the song lyrics using projection equipment in your classroom.