Strange Fruit: Remembering Thomas Shipp and Abram Smith

Local photographer Lawrence Beitler took what would become the most iconic photograph of lynching in America.  

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Lawrence Beitler's photo of the lynching of Thomas Shipp and Abram Smith (1930).

Eighty years ago, on August 6, 1930, Thomas Shipp and Abram Smith were lynched in Marion, Ind., for an alleged armed robbery and rape of a white woman. The two men were dragged from their prison cells by a mob made up of thousands and then lynched. Local photographer Lawrence Beitler took what would become the most iconic photograph of lynching in America. The photograph became the inspiration for Billie Holiday's legendary song "Strange Fruit." In 2005 Senate members passed a historic resolution apologizing for failing to establish anti-lynching laws during the first half of the 20th century. The late James Cameron, who escaped the lynching but served four years in prison for a crime he did not commit, spoke about that horrible night.

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--Nsenga K. Burton

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