Ballad of Birmingham

by Dudley Randall

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What is the moral learned in "Ballad of Birmingham"? What is the theme and moral lesson which might apply to anyone in the mothe'r possition.  

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Dudley Randall's beautiful ballad pays tribute to the four little girls who were murdered on September 15, 1963.

In the poem, the stanzas shift from mother to daughter.  The young, nameless girl (who could symbolize any of the girls) wants to stand up and work to make the world a better place.  She wants to go to go downtown to march with the others, but her mother fears that it will not be safe. Instead, her mother lets her go to church.

"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."

For a moment the mother is at peace knowing that her daughter will be safe at church, but then things change when she hears the explosion.

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

Randall's poem brings up the bond between mothers and daughters.  The reader is heartbroken with the mother at the end of the poem when she picks up her daughter's shoe, but asks looking for her daughter "where are you?"

The poem also deals with the senseless tragedies that occurred during the Civil Rights Movement.  In a great irony, the young girl- who wanted to help- went to church to be safe, but instead died.

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