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Strange Fruit: African American Poetry in 19th Century America; Racialized Fear in Ebola Coverage

This week in Juicy Fruit, we of course talk about Annie Lennox, who released a cover of the iconic Billie Holiday song "Strange Fruit" in the same week she weighed in on Beyoncé's right to claim feminism. Later in the week, Ms. Lennox gave an interview to Tavis Smiley in which she managed to explain the meaning of our titular song without even using the words black, African American, or lynching.

And Ebola coverage remains wall-to-wall in the media, but how does the fear of the disease tie in to deep-seated fear of what was once called "the Dark Continent," and ideas about the "other" being scary and dangerous?

Shonda Rhimes also gets a shout out for her no-nonsense dismissal of a Twitter user's complaint that there are too many "gay scenes" in her shows.

And for our feature interview, we speak with Erika DeSimone, co-editor of "Voices Beyond Bondage: An Anthology of Verse by African Americans of the 19th Century." Often when we think of black Americans in that period, we think of people who couldn't read or write, because they weren't allowed to learn. But DeSimone's book dispels that myth—at the same time bringing to light beautiful poetry.

"Something is very wrong that we have this huge treasure trove of literature, this whole poetry movement, that nobody has said, 'Hey, let's pay attention to this,'" she says.

We asked why this work has gone unnoticed for so long.

"History is written by the winners," she explains. "And by and large the winners are not African Americans in this country."

Strange Fruit can now be heard on 89.3 WFPL in Louisville (and live streaming at  wfpl.org) on Saturday nights at 10 p.m.

Laura is LPM's Director of Podcasts & Special Projects. Email Laura at lellis@lpm.org.

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