Peace And Violence In Dudley Randall's Ballad Of Birmingham
785 Words4 Pages
The church is most often associated with the idea of a sanctuary for peace and tranquility, a safe home. Everyone anticipates to be capable of going to church and get away from their concerns and not have to worry about whether they are in danger or not. However danger can appear in the least expected location. Dudley Randall's “Ballad of Birmingham” gives a poetic ballad of the bombing of the Birmingham church in Alabama in 1963. Its theme is revolved around the belief that no place is safe from racial hatred if a society doesn’t offer equal protection and punishment. Her mom trusts there is a place secure from racial hatred and violence. Her naïve belief cost her daughter’s life.
“Ballad of Birmingham” specifically retells the story of Addie Mae Collins. Addie Mae Collins was one of four girls killed in the blast. The other four, “Denise McNair, 11, and Carole Robertson, and Cynthia Wesley, all 14” (Raines, 1) were also killed. “The children were killed simply because they attended church on the wrong day.” (Raines, 1) Addie Mea Collins’ face was unidentifiable when they found her, but as soon as her sister Sarah Collins Cox saw her brown shoe, she quickly knew who it was from. In the poem the author changes it to a white shoe in the verse “white shoes on her feet” (Randall, 520) to demonstrate and symbolize purity and emphasize the mother’s pain and suffering. The daughter’s innocence is also described as a “bathed rose petal sweet” (Randall, 520). In literature, a white rose often is a symbol for perfection. They also represent new beginnings, which is what the bombing was for racism. The child was described like a bathed rose, cleansed and not yet touched by effects of racial hatred. On the other hand, we can also argue th...
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...ile the march was the safest place to be. Her daughter’s physical appearance was described as having combed hair, recently taken a bath, white gloves, white shoes, which was also ironic. The mother was confident that her angel was secure until she heard the bomb go off which started the firestorm from hell in the church.
In conclusion, this whole poem has symbolic historic value because of its theme surrounding The Children’s March and The Birmingham Church Bombing. The author successfully brought the pain and impact the event made by taking Addie Mae Collins’ death. “He makes the sadness of an infamous tragedy vivid and heartfelt to everyone who reads it, whether they have connection to the tragedy or not.” (Devitt, 1) By approaching these events from a sentimental point of view rather than an objective one, Randall provides unique insight into the tragedy.