Belle, The Last Mule at Gee’s Bend

Belle, The Last Mule at Gee's BendWritten by Calvin Alexander Ramsey and Bettye Stroud, Illustrated by John Holyfield

This is a unique perspective about Martin Luther King Junior’s wish for how he would be remembered.

This is the story of a mule named Belle. She was eating all the collard greens she wanted in a garden when a boy wondered why she got free reign. Alex talks with Ms. Pettway about the mule. She explains how mules were valuable to the people in Gee’s Bend. Mules were able to help move people from one place to another. She explains a bit about the struggle in Gee’s Bend to be able to vote, and how Martin Luther King, Jr. encouraged them to register to vote. The ferry across to the voting area was closed on voting day. Mules helped carry some people to the polls. Mules play a large role in this story of the poor people who worked in the area.

Belle was one of the pair of mules who pulled Dr. King’s casket. She and Ada lived in Alabama. They were loaded in a truck to go to Atlanta for the funeral, but were stopped by the police. They said that Belle and Ada wouldn’t be able to cross state lines. The governors of Georgia and Alabama had to work together to get both mules to Atlanta. Belle was honored for her help in fulfilling Dr. King’s wish to have his body be pulled by mules for his funeral. He liked the imagery of hard working mules that do what they think is right.

Review by Cheryl Baker, Teacher, Mill Creek Elementary
Rating: ★★★★½ (4.5 stars)
Interest Level: Grades 2-5

Belle: The Last Mule at Gee’s Bend
Written by Calvin Alexander Ramsey and Bettye Stroud, Illustrated by John Holyfield
Candlewick Press
32 pages
Release Date: 2011; January 26, 2016 (paperback)

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