Art at the Expo



Ballad of Birmingham Puzzles

During the 1960's, many people fought for civil rights and equality.  Black Americans faced racism, hatred, abuse, and murder. The Ballad of Birmingham, written by Dudley Randall in 1965, is based on the actual bombing of a church in Birmingham, Alabama, in 1963. 

The poem is about a small girl, who wants to join a freedom march, but her mother sends her to sing in church instead, thinking it will be safe. The child gets all dressed up to go, and her mother is happy knowing her daughter is safe. When the child is at church, there is an explosion. The mother finds a shoe, one belonging to her daughter.

We've been covering racism in our "What's Fair" unit for our LA class, and this poem was excellent for making us aware just how horrible racism is. We did numerous exercises on the poem, of course, such as writing descriptive words for common nouns, finding the main ideas of the poem, using different strategies to figure out the meaning, summarizing, and illustrating one of the stanzas.  We used two of the illustrations by students to make online jigsaw puzzles for you to play, and we also created a vocabulary wordsearch puzzle for you to try. Please see below.

The Ballad of Birmingham
by Dudley Randall (1965)

"Mother dear, may I go downtown
instead of out to play,
and march the streets of Birmingham
in a freedom march today?"

She has combed and brushed her nightdark hair,
and bathed rose-petal sweet,
and drawn white gloves on her small brown hands,
and white shoes on her feet.

"No baby, no, you may not go,
for the dogs are fierce and wild,
and clubs and hoses, guns and jails
ain't good for a little child."

The mother smiled to know her child
was in the sacred place,
but that smile was the last smile
to come upon her face.

"But, mother, I won't be alone.
Other children will go with me,
and march the streets of Birmingham
and make our country free."

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

"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 clawed through the bits of glass and brick,
then lifted out a shoe.
"O, here's the shoe my baby wore,
but, baby, where are you?"

Ballad of Birmingham Jigsaw Puzzles
Click one of the illustrations below to see if you can put together the jigsaw puzzles!  Have Fun!

The illustration on the left by Melissa shows people marching for freedom, and illustration on the right by Katherine depicts the mother doing her daughter's hair to get ready to go to church.

Click the button below to play the vocabulary word search puzzle. ENJOY!

Play the word search puzzle

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