Strange Fruit, Volume I: Uncelebrated Narratives from Black History
by Joel Christian Gill
Fulcrum Publishing, 2014
In a graphic novel format, Strange Fruit introduces nine stories of people who did astonishing things in their time. From Henry “Box” Brown, who mailed himself in a box to get out of slavery, to Lawman Bass Reeves, who apprehended 3,000 of the most dangerous outlaws in the old west. These stories give a new understanding of black history and include stories children will never find in history books.
Storyteller Joel Christian Gill celebrates each person or group’s achievement, in times when Negroes lived in constant fear of Jim Crow. He focuses on the good, even while much discrimination negatively impacted their success. For example, in the late 1800’s, Marshall Taylor discovered the bicycle and his life changed. With natural talent and hours of practice, he soon became a champion cyclist, in spite of Jim Crow continually trying to stop him. He eventually expanded his racing to Europe. He did very well financially.
Shared in a positive manner, Strange Fruit uncovers little known stories about people who, in their own way, did great things. The title, Strange Fruit, comes from Billie Holiday’s song, and that story is in the book, too.