Dudley Randall was born in Washington, D.C., on January 14, 1914. His earliest recollection of composing a poem was when his mother took him to a band concert. Impressed by the big bass drums and bass horns, the four-year-old boy came home and wrote a poem to the tune of "Maryland, My Maryland." When Randall was nine years old, his family moved to Detroit, Michigan. By the time he was thirteen, his first published poem appeared in the Detroit Free Press. In 1943, Randall joined the U.S. Army Air Corps where he served as a supply sergeant in the Signal Corps. After the war, he went to Wayne State University and earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in English in 1949. He also completed his Master 's Degree in Library Science at the University of Michigan in 1951. Randall had a short time to work at Morgan State and Lincoln University. Then he became librarian and poet at the University of Detroit, retiring in 1974.
Randall is generally known to have written simple and realistic styled poems. In 1962 Randall became interested in Boone House, a black cultural center which had been founded by Margaret Danner, an African American poet. Many his following works were affected by the Civil Rights Movement in the 1960s. Typical...
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... daughter’s shoe. The last two lines switches back to quotations which create an unanswered question of a sorrowful mother: “Oh, here’s the shoe my baby wore/ But, baby, where are you?” This is a strong ending to an emotion-filled poem, and the use of question leaves the readers an unspeakable answer.
In conclusion, “Ballad of Birmingham” is a mournful song. It is based on a tragic event which caused the death of four innocent girls. Although the poem only portrays an unnamed girl, it is a tribute to all four deceased girls. More significantly, it is the voice of all anonymous victims of racism. Randall elaborately uses figurative language to insert not only the pity for the dead girls, but the whole theme of racial discrimination. Along with Civil Rights Movement, the poem marks a historical phase in American history, and it is a legacy of poetry heritage forever.
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- In 1969, Dudley Randall published his poem “Ballad of Birmingham” in response to the historical event of the bombing in 1963 of Martin Luther King, Jr.’s church by white terrorists. It is a dialogue between mother and daughter during which, the daughter asks her mother for going out to join the Freedom March, and eventually, she ends up dying in an explosion of the church. The poem has become the greatest work of Randall, and it leaves the readers with a deep emotion about tragedies due to the segregation in the 1960s.... [tags: Poetry, African American, Racism, Stanza]
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