Strange Fruit and Stolen Lives

The ugly story of the whitest county in America

Courtesy W. W. Norton & Company
Courtesy W. W. Norton & Company

Forsyth County, Georgia, is infamous for being—for a remarkably long stretch of the 20th century—one of the only all-white counties in America. This week, we’re revisiting our interview with Patrick Phillips, whose book Blood at the Root is both a history of the county where he grew up and a personal reckoning with the “ghost story” that he heard for most of his childhood: the racial cleansing of 1912, when white night riders violently drove all 1,098 black citizens out of their homes, and out of the county. But the people who pushed out Forsyth’s black residents weren’t Klan members: their identities might well surprise you.

Go beyond the episode:

  • Jane Daniel, Oscar Daniel, Ernest Knox, and others arrested in 1912 (Atlanta Constitution, October 4, 1912)

Tune in every week to catch interviews with the liveliest voices from literature, the arts, sciences, history, and public affairs; reports on cutting-edge works in progress; long-form narratives; and compelling excerpts from new books. Hosted by Stephanie Bastek.

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This episode features Billie Holiday’s rendition of “Strange Fruit.” Our theme music was composed by Nathan Prillaman.

Permission required for reprinting, reproducing, or other uses.

Stephanie Bastek is the senior editor of the Scholar and the producer/host of the Smarty Pants podcast.


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