A Historical Look Into the “Ballad of Birmingham

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A Historical Look into the “Ballad of Birmingham
The “Ballad of Birmingham is a shocking poem that was written by Dudley Randall about a bombing of an African American church in Birmingham, Alabama in 1963. The bombing of the church was racially motivated and resulted in the death of four innocent African American girls and was the turning point in the United States 1960s Civil Rights Movement. In Dudley’s poem he has taken such a sad event and turned it into a poem showing the racially motivated terrorism that was occurring during that time frame. The poem is written in conversation form between a mother and her daughter where the daughter is asking to go the March on Birmingham and the mother is expressing her concerns about her going. In order to further understand what is being conveyed in the poem “Ballad of Birmingham”, first there must be a clear understanding of the time in which the poem is based 1963 during the Civil Rights Movement. In the poem the daughter is asking “Mother dear, may I go downtown/Instead of out to play,/and march the streets of Birmingham/In a Freedom March today?” (1-4). It is here in this section of the poem the reader is able to identify the location historically and what was happening during that time frame. This event itself is the motivator that sparked Randall to write this poem, providing an insight to the reader of the importance of the racial terrorism of the time. It is here where he identifies a location along with the event that was taking place at that time. By setting the location and event in the very beginning of the poem the reader is able to view the world that lies behind the text that Randall has written the world of the Civil Rights Movement.

When the mother responds to the daughter she provided another indication of what was going on during that time that would provide the reader an insight into the world as Randall saw it in 1964. The mother stated to the daughter, “No, baby, no you may not go/ For the...
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