Phyllis M. Croom

Phyllis M. Croom is a writer and documentary filmmaker. Her current film is titled "Being Billie: Re-imagining Billie Holiday." Her articles have appeared in The Washington Post, The Chicago Tribune, and Jazz Times magazine.

Recent Articles

Say Her Name: Billie Holiday and the Erasure of Black Women's Experience

It’s been 100 years since the birth of the American musical genius, yet for girls born today into communities like hers, little has changed.

(Photo: All-Nite Images/Creative Commons)
When activists gathered in Baltimore on May 21, 2015, as part of a nationwide rallying cry protesting police violence against black women, it seemed fitting that they should stand in the shadows of famed jazz singer Billie Holiday. Holiday, or rather her towering eight-and-one-half-foot likeness, is erected on the west side of the city, at the corner of Pennsylvania and Lafayette Avenues. Adorned in a full-length strapless gown and donning what came to be known as her signature gardenia, the darkened bronze monument affectingly dramatizes the musical great in elegant pose, her open-mouthed head tilted ever so slightly to the side and arms subtly positioned as if silently beseeching the attention of an imperceptible audience. Born in Philadelphia, Holiday (considered one of the most influential female musicians of all time) spent much of her childhood on the streets of Baltimore’s Fells Point—then an impoverished community in the southeastern section of the city, while the...