(Click on image to enlarge.)
Memorial Day is traditionally the day when Americans head for the malls to take advantage of holiday store sales honor their war dead, but maybe it’s time to set aside another day of remembrance—one that honors the victims of lynchings, mass shootings, extrajudicial police killings, and lethal criminal violence. These are the people who weren’t able to enjoy the freedom and security that our soldiers fought for and died to protect. Their shamefully high numbers are a stain on our nation’s conscience.
(A note on the image):
The picture is a composite of photographs that depict: (1) the 1930 Marion, Indiana lynchings of Thomas Shipp and Abram Smith (Lawrence Beitler, photographer); (2) the 1882 lynching of an unidentified Afro-American man; (3) a memorial to the victims of the 2012 Sandy Hook school shooting (photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images); (4) an American flag.
From the first link:
“The iconic photograph of the incident inspired Abel Meeropol to write the poem and song “Strange Fruit,” which Billie Holliday recorded in 1939.
Southern trees bear a strange fruit,
Blood on the leaves and blood at the root,
Black body swinging in the Southern breeze,
Strange fruit hanging from the poplar trees.
Pastoral scene of the gallant South,
The bulging eyes and the twisted mouth,
Scent of magnolia sweet and fresh,
And the sudden smell of burning flesh!
Here is a fruit for the crows to pluck,
For the rain to gather, for the wind to suck,
For the sun to rot, for a tree to drop,
Here is a strange and bitter crop.”
Another version, sung by Nina Simone with disturbing images of other lynchings.