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In the poem "Ballad of Birmingham," what kind of justice have the perpetrators used?...

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readeal3 | Student, Grade 11 | (Level 1) Valedictorian

Posted December 7, 2012 at 11:25 PM via web

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In the poem "Ballad of Birmingham," what kind of justice have the perpetrators used? (i.e. Did they take justice into their own hands?)

I'm writing an essay about different kinds of justice in different poems and stories and "Ballad of Birmingham" is one of them.

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mwestwood | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted December 8, 2012 at 6:49 AM (Answer #1)

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The phrase "taking justice in one's own hands" pertains to individuals outside the law who take action to seek punishment for those perceived as criminals who have not been adequately punished by the law. For instance, in Mexico in recent years there have been lynchings of drug traffickers by local townspeople because these drug dealers have gone unpunished by corrupt law enforcement officers.

Now, in reference to the bombing of African Americans in a Baptist church on Sixteenth Street in Birmingham, Alabama, there was no crime originally committed that suggested punishment by anyone "taking justice in his own hands."  Instead, the bombing was an act of terror by Klu Klux Klan members against those exercising their First Amendment Rights.

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

The mother, completely unsuspecting of any danger, has sent her child to church rather than allowing her to be in the Freedom March.  The sad irony is that her daughter would have been safer having participated in the outdoor march rather than going to the site of the planning for desegregation by leaders of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference and the Congress on Racial Equality's campaign to register African Americans to vote.


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