Ballad of Birmingham Overview

“Ballad of Birmingham” by Dudley Randall is a poem about the 1sixth Street Baptist Church bombing in Birmingham in 1963.

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The poem begins with an exadjust in between a daughter and mom. The daughter wants to go to downtown Birmingham to attfinish a march, however her mommy prohibits her from going.The mom sends the daughter to church instead and feels secure in the expertise that her daughter will be out of harm’s method.In the poem’s last two stanzas, the mother hears an explosion, runs to the church, and finds her daughter’s shoe amid the wreckage.
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Last Updated on April 26, 2021, by Editorial. Word Count: 606


Dudley Randall’s “Ballad of Birmingham” was initially publiburned in broadside format and also was consequently accumulated in Randall’s 1968 volume, Cities Burning, which centers approximately the layout of social and also political tumult. True to that template, “Ballad of Birmingham” is around the 1sixth Street Baptist Church battle in Birmingham, Alabama, in 1963. In eight ballad stanzas, the poem imagines an interactivity in between one of the victims and also her mommy on the day of the tragedy.


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“Ballad of Birmingham” contains a note over the initially stanza. The note clarifies that the poem’s subject is “the battle of a church in Birmingham, Alabama, 1963.” This is a recommendation to the 1sixth Street Baptist Church battle, which developed in Birmingham on September 15, 1963. The function of this note is to create the historical context and to suggest that the girl in the poem is based on the 4 girls who were eliminated in the bombing: Addie Mae Collins, Cynthia Wesley, Caduty Robertchild, and also Carol Denise McNair.

The poem starts in the voice of an uncalled young girl that is in conversation with her mommy. The daughter asks her “Mother dear” for permission to go to downtvery own Birmingham rather of playing through her friends. The reason for her research is her desire to attfinish a “Freedom March,” seemingly a recommendation to the large civil civil liberties marcs in Birmingham organized in May of 1963 by the Southern Christian Leadership Conference.

In the second stanza, the girl’s mom responds to her request. She firmly yet affectionately denies her daughter’s wishes, saying “No, baby, no,” citing the potential risks her daughter might face: aggressive dogs, clubs, hoses, guns, and also the hazard of jail. This list refers to the strategies police would certainly usage against civil legal rights protesters in Birmingham and also other cities.

In the 3rd stanza, the daughter replies, countering that she would be accompanied by other children in a collective march intended to “make our country free.” In the fourth stanza, the mother reiterates her reply of “No, baby, no” and also aobtain voices her problem about the threats her daughter could face, worrying that “those weapons will certainly fire.” She presents an alternative, recommending that her daughter go to church and also sing in the children’s choir instead.

The fifth stanza marks a shift amethod from the dialogue in between the daughter and also mother to a third-person account. The mother very closely helps her daughter obtain ready for church, brushing her “night-dark hair,” bathing “climbed petal sweet,” and dressing her in white gloves and white shoes. The sixth stanza jumps ahead to when the daughter is in church, at which suggest the mom smiles, assured her daughter is in “the sacred location.” The stanza ends via a minute of distinct foreshadowing, noting that this smile would certainly be the mother’s last smile.

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The stress created by this foreshadowing conveniently rises to a dramatic turning suggest once the mommy hears an explosion. She immediately begins to cry in anguish, her eyes “wet and also wild.” Fearing the worst, she rushes throughout Birmingham towards the church, calling out her daughter’s name as she goes.

The eighth and also last stanza picks up after another brief narrative gap. As the mother “clegislations through bits of glass and brick,” it becomes clear that she has actually arrived at the church and that, just as she has feared, the church was the tarobtain of the explosion. Out of the pile of rubble, the mom finds and picks up a shoe. In the final 2 lines, the poem returns aacquire to the mother’s voice as she cries out, identifying the shoe as her daughter’s and asking, “But, baby, wright here are you?”