Dudley Randall was born 14 January 1914 in Washington, D.C. Randall led a life full of intellectual exploration, service, and literary entrepreneurship. He started writing poetry at an early age, and filled notebooks throughout his years, drawing on the civil rights movement, work experiences, travels, and personal experiences for inspiration. In addition to serving his country in the Pacific theatre during World War II, Randall worked for Ford Motor Company, the U.S. Postal Service, and several libraries. In the 1960s, he built one of the most important presses in American history, Detroit Free Press, and went on to publish scores of African American authors, as well as several books of his own poetry, including some truly classic pieces. In the poem "Ballad of Birmingham," Randall uses a sad tone and irony to describe the events of one of the most vivid and vicious chapters from the civil rights movement, the bombing of a church in 1963 that wounded 21 and cost four girls their lives. The poem begins with a dialogue between mother and daughter during which, ironically, the mother forbids the daughter to march for freedom, fearing that street were unsafe and filled with violence. Instead, she gives permission for the daughter to sing in the children's choir at their church. How could the mother know, of course, that the streets, that day, might have offered some relative safety? The tragedy, a central feature of many ballads, becomes especially clear and poignant at the end, when the mother searches for her missing daughter.
Ballad of Birmingham 2
Critical Essay 1 Jhan Hochman
Jhan Hochman critical essay explaines his views of what he felt Randall was trying to say. Hochman went back six months before the date of the Birminham church bombing to help support his opinion of the poem "Ballad of Birmingham". I think Houchman felt that Randall had to make a point to the public that no African-Americans had a place of security in that time. Hochman made...
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