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Ballad of Birmingham.

Dudley Randall (1914- ), born in Washington, D.C., received the B.A. degree in English from Wayne State University and the M.A. degree in library science from the University of Michigan in 1951. As founder and editor of the Broadside Press in Detroit, the leading publisher of black poetry in the country, he was played a major role in encouraging other black poets. He has edited several collections of black poetry, including The Black Poets, and has published several collections of his own poetry, including Cities Burning. His poem"Ballad of Birmingham" was written in response to the bombing of a black church in Birmingham, Alabama, on September 15, 1963, which killed four small girls. Those who planted the bomb expected to impede the civil rights campaign against segregation in Birmingham, but the murders mobilized national opinion on behalf of the civil rights movement. "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 ain't good for a little child." "But, mother, I won't go 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 nightdark 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?"

COPYRIGHT 1991 COPYRIGHT 1990 Diane Ravitch
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Copyright 1991 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:history and words of the poem
Author:Randall, Dudley
Publication:The American Reader
Article Type:Reference Source
Date:Jan 1, 1991
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