Strange Fruit

This is a part of a series of posts I’ll be doing that feature women — as writers, creatives, world-changers, or everyday people who’ve made a difference, yet we’ve likely not heard of them.

Surprisingly enough, even though I’m a Georgia native, I was not familiar with Lillian Smith. Hers was the first knowledge card I drew from my deck of Women Who Dare. Ironically, Smith lived just about 40 minutes from where I live now, as she spent the bulk of her life in Rabun County. Lillian was a writer and activist who stood openly against segregation and racism as early as the 1930s, saying that “Segregation is spiritual lynching.”

As I read more about Lillian, and I encourage you to do the same here,  I was moved not only by her bravery and activism, but also by the fact that she struggled with her desire to write creatively or “respond to her stern conscience and the intellectual voice of duty.” It appears Smith was able to satisfy both desires, as she wrote both creatively and with an eye towards social justice. While I’ve heard of her book, Strange Fruit, I’m adding it and Killers of the Dream to my reading list. Smith was one of the first white Southerners to speak and act against racism, and she openly lived with her lifetime partner, Paula Snelling.  I look forward to reading her work.

Special thanks to the New Georgia Encyclopedia, where I gathered much of this information.

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2 thoughts on “Strange Fruit

  1. Rosemary, you might want to google Constance Curry, a classmate of mine at ASC. She has written several books about the Civil Rights movement in the ’60’s, having been at the forefront of that action.
    She has received a number of awards for her contribution to the social and political progress in this field.

    A unique though unwitting participant in the medical field was revealed to the world by Rebecca Skloot, who wrote a detailed account of this woman’s exploitation by scientists and businessmen in her book, The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks. You may have read it. A startling and previously ignored story combining the racial impact on Henrietta’s family and the immense value of her involuntary contribution to cellular research and medical bioethics. Hilary Mantel has written in The Guardian: “No dead woman has done more for the living…”

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  2. I was reading about women in science and found it was awfully hard for women to get respect in the world of science, no matter how sharp and smart they were. Having grown up in a world where women were manipulated and kept “in their place” I admire the women who kept to their tasks and made a big difference in the world of today.

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