Birmingham Alabama Poem Summary

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The setting of the poem takes places in Birmingham Alabama in 1963. Before jumping right into the poem lets consider some background history of what actually went down in that church of Birmingham, Alabama. The bombing occurred in 16th Street Baptist Church. The bombing was an act of white supremacist (meaning that they believed that white people were superior than all the other races, especially the black race in particular) which was an act of terrorism that happened Sunday, September 15th, 1963. The number of deaths were only four, killing four girls. This act of terrorism was executed by the members of the Ku Klux Klan when they planted fifteen sticks of dynamite in the church. The bomb went off while the children were in the basement,…show more content…
In fact, the first four stanzas of the poem contain quotation marks in them. As the readers, we can tell that it’s a conversation that is occurring between a child and their mother. In the first stanza we read that it’s the child who is speaking at first, as she asks her mother if she can go, “and march the streets of Birmingham in a Freedom March today?” (Randall, 3-4). When one thinks of marches now a day, we often think of protests and fires- something not pleasant. However, at the time of Martin Luther King during the 1960’s the marches were known to be quite peaceful, that even children would be able to participate in them. The child is basically stating that they would rather go out and march in the Freedom March then play outside. In spite of her daughter asking, we read the mother’s reply as she tells her child that she cannot participate in the march. In line 5 she states, “No, baby, no you may not go,” Furthermore, lines 6- 8 tell us of the mother’s reply, “For the dogs are fierce and wild, and clubs and hoses, guns and jails aren’t good for a little child.” Often times these protests were broken up by the police. Moreover, it vividly depicts the violence that the African Americans had to endure. The mother has this underlying fear that if her kid would go out to march, that they would face the police’s brutality. Throughout the poem, it’s read in a very sing song manner…show more content…
Other children will go with me, and march the streets of Birmingham to make our country free.” The child reassures her mother, that she wont be alone and that other children will be joining as well. In line 12 we read the child’s response as to why she wants to go and participate in the march, “to make our country free.” (Randall, 12). Nevertheless, in stanza 4 we see the mother talking again, stating the same words that were said in line 5 are repeated again in line 13, “No, baby, no you may not go,” We see that the mother is firm in her decision and won’t let her kid go. Although, she does offer an alternative as she suggests to her child, “But you may go to church instead and sing in the children’s choir.” (Randall,
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