Comparison Between 'the (Ballad of the) Death of Emmett Till' vs. 'Biko' Essay
776 Words4 Pages
IB Language and Literature
Comparative Analysis on Bob Dylan’s “The (Ballad of the) Death of Emmett Till” and Peter Gabriel’s “Biko”
Steve Biko and Emmet Till were both victims of wrongful, violent and shocking deaths that rocked the world around them, and impacted the movement for equality. Steve Biko worked to set of an alarm that would sound throughout the world for years to come Emmet Till on the other hand was not aware that he too would be an activist for anti-racism in the United States. Both Bob Dylan and Peter Gabriel were impacted by these hero’s and felt that their struggle and significance should be recognized, hence they created “The (Ballad of the) Death of Emmett Till” and “Biko,” which will eternally be the voice of the cause.
The audience for both Gabriel and Dylan is now universal, however when Bob Dylan made his tribute for Emmet Till it was in hope to inspire and encourage American youth to abort the unfairness of the Jim Crow laws, and their society in general. Where as Peter Gabriel wrote “Biko,” to spread the word about how great a man Steven Biko was, and what he stood for. As a British singer/song writer he wasn’t trying to alert “his people” (Dylan was directly speaking to Americans), he was alerting the whole world. He was a bystander, simply recording his reactions in a song. Bob Dylan also makes direct references to his reaction towards Emmett’s death (“I saw the morning papers but I could not bear to see”)
Gabriel uses the first two lines to inform the reader that Biko dies in the late seventies in South Africa, and victim of a tragedy. The lines “It was business as usual in police room 619” are meant to symbolize the fact that it was normal for black Africans to die while in police custody. Bob Dylan too states, “not so long ago” in Mississippi a young black boy visited the south the “dreadful