Sharecropper's Recompense:

Strange Fruit


Copyright 2006 David G. Wilson

Acrylic on canvas;2006; Collection of the artist.

Warning

This sculpture and text are published via this medium only for the intellectual edification of the general public . No unauthorized commercial use is allowed without expressed written permission.

Southern Trees

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.

Copyright 1940 Lewis Allen

Strange fruit began as a poem written by a Abel Meeropol, a Jewish New York City schoolteacher who wrote under the pseudonym Lewis Allen. Being quite disturbed by the photographs of black men lynched in the south, he penned this hunting poem as his protest response to the horrible scene in the photograph.

In this painting, I try to depict the cause of lynching in the south by depicting the chief practitioners of this barbaric and evil deed and the major reason for it. There is the body of the lynched man hanging in the moonlight. Below is the grave that he dug with a shovel next to it. His dog stands lamenting by the side of the grave, while on the hill stands his shotgun house which stands on the land that he purchased to satisfy the dream of the forty acres and the mule that he did not receive as promissed. His recognition of the value of land and real estate, cost him dearly.

Racism is a violent form of economic disenfranchisement. Hatred is generated as was done in Rosewood, Florida and in Black Wall Street in Oklahoma in the earlier part of the 20th century. The same type of economic disenfranchisement was the root cause of the Chicago riots. If the blackman were to acquire wealth, it would elevate his socio-economic status, which would be a threat to the social standing of some less progressive of a different racial persuasion. Hence, it was necessary to find cause to hinder that progress and this usually ended in his demise.

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