I have always been deeply affected and influenced by music. Depending on my mood, I happily switch between drastically varying genres, but from age six when I first heard Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong deftly banter back and forth at one another, I was hooked on jazz.
One of my favorite jazz songs was resonating in my head all this weekend as I sat down to write and reflect on the "Jena 6" situation: it was the haunting sound of Billie Holiday's rendition of Strange Fruit, the now iconic jazz song which was originally a poem about the lynching of two black men written by Abel Meeropol, a Jewish schoolteacher from the Bronx. The first four lines have always arrested me, but I find them particularly disarming when viewed in the context of a situation such as that currently going on in Jena:
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