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
The crime scene depicts images that are haunting and reprehensible. They are intended to evoke raw and unchecked emotions. The scenes beckon viewers to imagine briefly the pain and suffering endured by the victims of the many acts of wanton violence, torture and murder inflicted upon individuals, entire communities of African people and their descendants, throughout the USA. This exhibit asks viewers to imagine the unrequited trauma experienced by families, including children, as they watched their loved ones being taken away to be lynched by a crazed mob of raging whites; some hooded, while most remained uncovered, others brandishing guns, shouting foul obscenities.
Imagine the terror, the burning crosses. Imagine having to watch and stand in the shadows of the horrid executions. Imagine collecting the burned ashes of your husband, wife, child, grandparent, school teacher, preacher, doctor, another dearly beloved somebody. Imagine that you had no recourse; that you knew that the murderers would go unpunished and that justice favored the perpetrators. Imagine cutting the dangling rope and removing the knotted noose from the neck of your darling. Imagine being silenced, no time for grief… Imagine, if you dare!
Murder by lynch mobs were common occurrences throughout the USA. Mobs of white people assembled for hangings, to witness and cheer on the gruesome torture, mutilation, and murder of another human, a black body, believing it was right by God. A haunting past indeed! Imagine the accused, faultless, but condemned to die. Helpless without any defense, blamed without reason. Imagine the last thoughts of the young boy as he was dragged before a mocking crowd, staring eyes and pointing fingers. Imagine his grief and despair. Imagine his mother’s wails as the rope tightened. What do you feel? Imagine life vanquished. Imagine being robbed of hope. Imagine being hated and expected to love the haters. Imagine having to explain the conditions of fate to children.
Alas, we invite you to imagine the generational scars, guilt and pain caused when we turn away from the truth of our past. History does repeat itself! Lady Day’s lament rings loud, blood on the leaves and blood at the root. Southern trees still bear strange fruits…a strange and bitter crop. Be WOKE and imagine a more just and balanced way of being. Be WOKE and imagine an end to gun violence, homelessness, curable diseases, and greed. Be WOKE and imagine school children not having to live in fear. Be WOKE and imagine that “Black Lives Matter” because it is a life and all life matters. Be WOKE and imagine that we are made in the image of God and that image is LOVE and GOODNESS. Be WOKE and be willing to stand in the truth of our collective past. Be WOKE and know that healing is oftentimes painful. Be WOKE and endure the pain of redemption, it won’t kill you! Be Woke and loosen the yoke of lies, corruption and conceit, that continues to strangle our nation. Be WOKE and Stay WOKE! - O