Ballad of Birmingham

"Ballad of Birmingham" is the first song of Shawn E. Okpebholo's Two Black Churches, which sets the texts of Dudley Randall and Marcus Amaker.

Date: 2020Composer: Shawn E. OkpebholoText: Dudley RandallSong Collection: Two Black Churches

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    Ballad of Birmingham

    “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 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?”

    Related Information


    Sheet Music

    Okpebholo: "Two Black Churches"

    Composer(s): Shawn Okpebholo

    Buy via Edition Peters

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