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The Real Life Events Illustrated in The Ballad of Birmingham, by Dudley Randall

Decent Essays
The tragic poem, “The Ballad of Birmingham,” begins with a young child asking an imploring question to her mother, “May I go downtown instead of out to play” (Randall, 669)?
The author, Dudley Randall, illustrates the conflict and irony between the mother and her child. The mother only wants to protect her child from the dangers that await her, but the child on the other hand, only wants to be a part of the Freedom March in Birmingham, Alabama. “The Ballad of Birmingham” was written about the real life events of the bombing that took place in Birmingham, Alabama at the church of Martin Luther King, Jr by white terrorists. Though the bombing was tragic and resulted in the death of four innocent African American girls and injuring fourteen
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The child is not frightened, but informs her mother that other children will accompany her to the march to make the country free. The mother tells her again that she cannot go, because she is afraid that guns will be fired; therefore she would not be safe. The mother then tries yet again to deter her daughter from her journey to Birmingham by telling her to go to the church instead where she can sing in the children’s choir, safe from harm.

After telling her daughter she can go to the church, the mother gives her a bath in rose petal water, dresses her in her best clothes, and even gives her a pair of gloves to wear and little white shoes. This is the most ironic part of the intire poem because the mother believes she is sending her to a safe place, but is unaware of the fact, that she is doing the exact opposite and is sending her child to her doom. Once her daughter has left, she smiles, but it is the last smile to come upon her face. The gives the reader a sense that the young girl dressed all in white, is about to come to her demise. Because if the young girl was going to a safe place, this would not be the last time that her mother smiled.

The ending of the poem is most tragic. In the safety of her home, the mother hears an explosion, and races through the streets of Birmingham. Frightened as can be, she calls for her child; only to remain unheard by the young girl. Looking through debris from the rubble of the church, the mother finds a
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