“The year is 1940. You are in a ’37 Buick, driving west on the Dixie Overland Highway. You plan to take it all the way to California, but as things stand, you might not even make it to the Texas border. For you are black, and you are deep in Alabama, and night is coming.
This is the land of strange fruit: Elizabeth Lawrence, an elderly black woman who’d chastised white children for throwing rocks at her, lynched in 1933; Otis Parham, 16, set upon by a mob that couldn’t find the perpetrator of an alleged attack on a white man in 1934. They killed Parham instead and threw his body into a ditch. You don’t have to know the names of Alabama’s recently murdered to feel the presence of their ghosts in the roadside thickets of longleaf pine.”