“Southern trees bear a strange fruit,
Blood on the leaves and blood at the root…”
A local public relations agency says it’s changing its name after a firestorm on social media over the weekend.
In a flurry of tweets and retweets that started late Saturday and continued into Sunday, people from across the nation and around the globe chastised Austin-based Strange Fruit Public Relations, which shares its name with a Billie Holiday song dealing with racism.
It is widely accepted that the song, based on a poem written in 1937 by Abel Meeropol, uses the term “strange fruit” as a metaphor for lynching victims hanging from trees.
It’s not that they were unaware, exactly:
Mary Mickel, who co-founded the firm with Ali Slutsky, told the American-Statesman the duo was unaware of the song when they first settled on the name in 2012.
“We thought the name would be perfect for a hospitality PR firm that specializes in food and drink,” Mickel said via email. “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 naïve to think that, and should have known better.”
I’m betting there probably isn’t a Dred Scott Real Estate, either.