By: Ke’Tara Wells
A & E aired the Shining a Light: A Concert for Progress on Race in America on Nov. 20. The United Way Worldwide and iHeartmedia powered the concert, creating awareness on racial inequality and civil rights activism.
R&B Queen, ‘Jilly from Philly’ Jill Scott gave audience members a dark and haunting performance in her portrayal of Billie Holiday’s “Strange Fruit.”
A White Jewish poet, Abel Meeropol, originally wrote the song as a poem in 1939. He published it in a teacher’s union publication, which he later performed. According to NPR, a nightclub owner gave the poem to Billie Holiday who decided to perform it. The song was written addressing the lynchings of Black men in the south in the early 20th century.
The song describes black men being killed, burned and hanged while rocking back and forth from trees by lynch mobs. However, The lyrics of the song still seem to find its mold in today’s society of modern lynching, regarding police violence and brutality.
The fund will aid the planning of a new memorial wing at Charleston’s Mother Emanuel Church, the oldest AME church in the south. The historic church was the scene of a mass shooting/ murder in which nine people, including the pastor, were killed. A portion of the proceeds will go to the a fund supporting victims’ families and survivors.
There are many organizations and individuals who are creating awareness regarding the causes of racial inequality, civil rights and promoting social and criminal justice reform.
Aside from Jill Scott, the concert included performances by Pharrell Williams, Alicia Keys, Nicki Minaj, John Legend, P!ink, Ed Sheeran, Sia, Sting, Big sean, Miguel, Jamie Foxx and more.
Check out Jill Scott’s haunting rendition below.