Bloomington High School North Library

Bloomington High School North

Strange fruit

Review by Kim Smith on February 11, 2016

Categories: Non-fiction, Graphic Novel

Black history is an extensive and important component of American history, but much of it is still obscured. Being filtered through major textbook systems, a lot of black achievements have been erased from common knowledge. However, Strange Fruit brings this beautiful history back by acknowledging the black unsung heroes of America using quaint narrative and crudely drawn but pleasant pictures. Strange Fruit offers a look into multiple facets of black ability, from former slaves to magicians to scientists.
Harry “Bucky” Lew was a basketball player who showcased his skill and talent while fighting against racism and defying stereotypes. Thoefilus Thompson was a former slave who suffered through the atrocities of slavery. However, after teaching himself how to play chess, he mastered it and wrote a book on techniques. Thompson eventually became the first African American chess master.
However, Strange Fruit doesn’t just refer to specific people. It also refers to triumphs made by black people that were destroyed or demonized, such as The Shame. The Shame recounts the story of a 20th century settlement started by blacks that served as a safe haven for blacks, whites, and their biracial children. The settlement was destroyed, however, by whites who thought it to be an abomination. The Noyes Academy’s story is also told, which was America’s first integrated school. It, like the integrated settlement, received a cold welcome.
Strange Fruit’s retelling of obscure black history is beautiful and serious, giving each story it’s own significance and detail. Its celebration of black excellence is testament to black achievement and ability and is a wonderful and short read.