The public relations firm formerly known as Strange Fruit PR has turned over a new leaf and is now known as Perennial Public Relations after receiving backlash on Twitter.
In a statement to The Root, owners Mary Mickel and Ali Slutsky wrote, “We sincerely apologize to those offended by the former name of our firm. In no way did we ever intend for the name of our firm to offend nor infer any implication of racism.”
“Strange Fruit” was made famous by Billie Holiday in 1939 as she sung about the lynchings of black men in the South.
“Southern trees bear a strange fruit,” the song begins. “Blood on the leaves and blood at the root/Black body swinging in the Southern breeze/Strange fruit hanging from the poplar trees.”
For over a year, people have asked the Austin, Texas-based public relations firm to change its name, but it all came to a head on Twitter on Monday. The owners of the firm actually knew about the song’s meaning in 2012 but thought people would not associate it with the company.
“We thought the name would be perfect for a hospitality PR firm that specializes in food and drink,” Mickel said in a statement to the Austin American-Statesman. “We of course Googled to ensure that it was not taken elsewhere, and found the Billie Holiday song online. Thinking it would have nothing to do with our firm, and since it was written in 1939 it wouldn’t be top of mind in the public consciousness. We now know we were naive to think that, and should have known better.”
So to everyone in the comments section from Monday’s article, with their superhero cape on supporting these two women, guess what? Joke’s on you. They weren’t as naive and unknowing as you wanted them to be.