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Randall's poem "Ballad of Birmingham" is about the 1963 bombing of the Seventeenth Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama. In the first stanza of the poem, a young girl asks her mother if she can go into town to participate in the Freedom March instead of going outside to play. Her mother tells her that the demonstration is not safe for a child because there are police wielding guns, dogs, and firehoses. But the girl says that she will not be alone and that others will be there trying to get freedom and justice. The mother still does not want the child to go, so she tells her that she may instead go to the church to pray in support of the march. She helps her daughter get dressed, and the girl goes to the church where her mother assumes that she will be safe. But the church is bombed, and when the mother goes to look for her child, all she can find is her shoe.
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