Strange Fruit was hanging in Waco

The courts found it guilty, in four minutes

The crowd cheered,

The spectacle was about to start

 

Strange fruit was hanging, in Waco that day

The fruit was called,-Jesse Washington

Jesse was convicted of murdering a white female

So, the nigger must hang

 

Strange fruit was hanging, that day in Waco

Was the fruit black, on the inside?

Or black, on the outside

Did it really matter?

 

Strange fruit was hanging, that day in Waco

They hang, Jesse Washington

They burned him,

They dragged him, until,-his head came off

 

Strange fruit was hanging, that day in Waco

Hatred, animosity, and bigotry

Hatred, and more hatred

Strange fruit was hanging in Waco that day

 

Strange fruit was hanging from a tree, in Waco that day

There were no tears shed, that day

Nobody cared, nobody dared

People watched and cheered

 

Strange fruit, was hanging from a tree, in Waco that day

The crowds came, from miles around

The hatred and animosity, continued in Waco

Even then there were Jim Crow Laws to protect them

 

Strange fruit was hanging, from a tree in Waco

The tree was on Washington and 5th Street

The city is Waco, Texas

The country, is the United States

 

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Editors Note

Looking back can be a very good thing; even when what we are looking back at is a very bad thing, a horror, an outrage. This is history, American history, dark and dismal, but that is what history is, from all over the world. Texas history is rife with lynching, of Anglos, Mexicans, and Negros. Native Americans as well, for as long as they lasted.  Rough frontier justice combines with ethnic warfare with those of Mexican descent, and the legacy of the Old South and it’s view of black people as violent inferiors and sub humans. And of course, many whites were lynched as well, justice was rough at best in those times.

Out of tragedy does come hope. This act of mob horror was perhaps the best documented and most visually horrific of any act of mob violence in the United States to that date. Many citizens all across the nation recoiled in horror, and this lynching gave life to the anti-lynching and civil rights movement in the United States.

Some say that if history does not exactly repeat, it does rhyme and chime. There is a much (at least much less violent) modern day equivalent of mob internet lynching, where a story breaks and in a few hours or days masses of trolls or semi-trolls, or simply very judgmental people make a rush to judgement and pronounce severe and harsh retribution. It’s milder than the old timey lynching, but it can do a lot of damage.

On another note there has been a movement to put up an historical marker, not to commemorate, but to remind people of a past that most would rather forget. But the price of forgetting history can be very high. It can cost a people everything.

Thanks to Meliton Hinojosa, a very courageous man with something that is rare these days in poetry, and sorely missed; that is, the common touch.

Lynching of Jesse Washington 

Fresh Outrage in Waco at Grisly Lynching of 1916 

 

Author: Meliton Hinojosa, Jr.

Born in El Sauz, Texas to Meliton Hinojosa and Guadalupe Hinojosa in 1948, he has a BA and an MA in education from Texas A & M-Corpus Christi and currently teaches automotive mechanics at San Benito High School.

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