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Ballad of Birmingham

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by Allison Senger on 10 December 2013

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Transcript of Ballad of Birmingham

Ballad of Birmingham
By: Dudley Randall

Biography
Dudley Randall was born January 14, 1914 in Washington D.C. and later moved to Detroit, Michigan
He began writing when he was three and his first published poem appeared in the Detroit Free Press when he was thirteen years old.
He took a notebook with him everywhere. Even to the Pacific where he served in World War two, he wrote about his fallen friends and soldiers in a series of poems
Bio Cont.
Awards and Contributions to Literature Cont.
Distinguished Alumnus Award
International Black Writers' Conference Award
Creative Artist Award in Literature
National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship and Senor Fellowship
Awards and Contributions to literature
He achieved degrees in English and Library Science
He used his spare time to create and manage Broadside Press, a major press for african american writers
He was married to his wife Vivian for 40 years
Dudley Randall died August 5, 2000 at the age of 86 in South field, Michigan
He was named Poet Laureate of the city of Detroit by Mayor Coleman Young
University of Detroit, Michigan named there library, Dudley Randall Center for Print Culture, after him
Thompkins award for Poetry and Fiction
Kuumba Liberation award
Arts award in Literature, Michigan Foundation for the Arts
“Mother dear, may I go downtown
Instead of out to play,
And march the streets of Birmingham
In a Freedom March today?”

“No, baby, no, you may not go,
For the dogs are fierce and wild,
And clubs and hoses, guns and jails
Aren’t good for a little child.”

“But, mother, I won’t be alone.
Other children will go with me,
And march the streets of Birmingham
To make our country free.”

“No, baby, no, you may not go,
For I fear those guns will fire.
But you may go to church instead
And sing in the children’s choir.”
She has combed and brushed her night-dark hair,
And bathed rose petal sweet,
And drawn white gloves on her small brown hands,
And white shoes on her feet.

The mother smiled to know her child
Was in the sacred place,
But that smile was the last smile
To come upon her face.

For when she heard the explosion,
Her eyes grew wet and wild.
She raced through the streets of Birmingham
Calling for her child.

She clawed through bits of glass and brick,
Then lifted out a shoe.
“O, here’s the shoe my baby wore,
But, baby, where are you?”
Ballad Of Birmingham
By: Dudley Randall
Ballad of Birmingham
This poem is a ballad because it was written after true events of a church in Alabama being bombed because of whites discrimination towards african american people. Four young girls were killed and 17 people injured.
This poem illustrates a conflict between a child who wishes to march the streets with other children and a mother who is trying to protect her child.
Questions
Ballad of Birmingham Cont.
There isn't a very clear rhyme scheme but every second and fourth line in each stanza rhyme.
Ex:
1. What is the theme in this poem?

Mother dear, may I go downtown
Instead of out to
play
,
And march the streets of Birmingham In a Freedom March
today
?
A: Racism and Motherly love
2. What was the point of view of this poem?
A: It's out of the mothers point of view
3. What are some examples of imagery?
A: "night-dark hair... Bathed rose petal sweet...drawn white gloves... white shoes on her feet.
4. What were some of the tones throughout the poem?
A: 1st stanza the tone was innocence, 2nd stanza the tone was concern, 5th and 6th stanza the tone was joy and the 7th and 8th stanza the tone was grief and loneliness
Questions Cont.
5. What do you think this poem is about?
A: It is about a child who wants to fight for her freedom but isn't able to because her mother is trying to protect her.

6. Why do you think author would make a poem about this?
7. Why do you think using a kid in this poem showed the horror better then an adult?
8. Why do you think that poem was so famous?
A: The author may have wrote this poem in order to let the world know what happened and how horrible it was for the people that suffered through it.
A: The kid in this poem hits the hearts of people more instead of an adult because they are more innocent.
A: This poem was so famous because it was written by a black writer and there was a lot of discrimination towards black people back then and it shows that he wasn't really afraid of what other people would do about it. He just wanted peopple to know and that really caught my attention
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