"Strange Fruit" Constructed Response Activity


"I am only a mouthpiece through which to tell the story of lynching and I have told it so often that I know it by heart. I do not have to embellish; it makes its own way."

~ Ida B. Wells-Barnett

Strange Fruit

Southern trees bear strange fruit,
Blood on the leaves and blood at the root,
Black bodies 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 magnolias, sweet and fresh,
Then the sudden smell of burning flesh.

Here is fruit for the crows to pluck,
For the rain to gather, for the wind to suck,
For the sun to rot, for the trees to drop,
Here is a strange and bitter crop.

Lyrics; Lewis Anderson
Sung By; Billie Holiday


Reader's Dictionary
embellish: to enhance with fictitious additions
pastoral: having or suggesting simplicity and serenity
gallant:  grand, elegant, polite

1) Explain the meaning of the quote attributed to Ida B. Wells Barnett.

2) Which stanza of the song incorporates irony or contrast? Why might the
     song writer choose to incorporate these elements?

3) Compare the song Strange Fruit with the quote by Ida B. Wells Barnett. Discuss the meaning and message of each work. Do they express similar or contrasting views?

4) Explain the meaning and significance of the song's title.

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