Billie Holiday statue rededicated 50 years after her death

On the 50th anniversary of Holiday's death, a Baltimore statue of the jazz icon now bears images evoking the anti-racism message of "Strange Fruit"...

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Wade Johnson plays during a re-dedication ceremony marking the 50th anniversary of the singer’s death. (AP Photo/Rob Carr)

BALTIMORE (AP) — A Baltimore statue of Billie Holiday now bears images evoking the anti-racism message of a song recorded by the jazz icon in the 1930s, just as the sculptor intended.

Two panels at the statue’s base — one of a lynched man and another of a newborn baby — were part of the design, but weren’t included when the piece was erected in 1985 in a West Baltimore neighborhood.

At a rededication ceremony Friday on the 50th anniversary of Holiday’s death, Baltimore Mayor Sheila Dixon said people should view the statue and the panels as a depiction of “raw” history.

Holiday, who lived in Baltimore as a child, recorded “Strange Fruit,” a jazz ballad condemning lynchings of blacks. It was considered one of the first anti-racism songs in American popular music.

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