English 10 Honors Name: Ballad Notes (book pages 192-198)

English 10 Honors
Ballad Notes (book pages 192-198)
Setting, time,
background and
characterization are
quick – a few words
Characters pop in
and out
Swift location
Action lingers at
certain points for
Repetition –
Common Subjects:
revenge, love, death,
tragedy, domestic crime,
battle of the sexes
Written in stanzas
and with rhyme
“Ballad of Birmingham”
“Barbara Allan”
The Birmingham Church Bombing
Many of the civil rights protest marches that took place in Birmingham during the 1960s
began at the steps of the 16th Street Baptist Church, which had long been a significant
religious center for the city's black population and a routine meeting place for civil rights
organizers like King. KKK members had routinely called in bomb threats intended to
disrupt civil rights meetings as well as services at the church.
At 10:22 a.m. on the morning of September 15, 1963, some 200 church members were in
the building--many attending Sunday school classes before the start of the 11 am service-when the bomb detonated on the church's east side, spraying mortar and bricks from the
front of the church and caving in its interior walls. Most parishioners were able to evacuate
the building as it filled with smoke, but the bodies of four young girls (14-year-old Addie
Mae Collins, Cynthia Wesley and Carole Robertson and 11-year-old Denise McNair) were
found beneath the rubble in a basement restroom. Ten-year-old Sarah Collins, who was also
in the restroom at the time of the explosion, lost her right eye, and more than 20 other
people were injured in the blast.
~ http://www.history.com/topics/birmingham-church-bombing
Ballad of Birmingham
By Dudley Randall, © 1964, All rights reserved
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
Aren't good for a little child."
"But, mother, I won't be 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 night-dark 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 that 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?"