Documentary on Billie Holiday by former Hanna Perkins student honored by Smithsonian

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A short documentary by Laila Christian, who attended Hanna Perkins School as a young child and is entering her junior year at Shaker Heights High School, has been selected to be featured in a virtual documentary showcase by the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture.

Titled “Communication in Song: How Lady Day Paved the Way,” the video runs just under 10 minutes and earned honors in the National History Day State of Ohio Competition in April.

It explores the life and work of Billie Holiday, and how her performance of “Strange Fruit” in 1939 – with its tragic and powerful lyrics – was key in getting others to understand the horrors of the lynchings of African Americans after the Civil War.

The virtual showcase is available for viewing until June 23, 2021 at the Smithsonian Learning Lab.


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