Belle, The Last Mule at Gee’s Bend: A Civil Rights Story

Ramsey, Calvin Alexander and Stroud, Bettye.   Belle, The Last Mule at Gee's Bend: A Civil Rights Story.  Illustrated by John Holyfield. Published by Candlewick, 2011. Waiting for his mother in Gee's Bend, young Alex spots a mule running loose and eating crops from someone's garden. When he asks about the mule, Alex learns the history lesson of a lifetime about the famous Belle and her connection to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Told in retrospect, this is the story of the connections between the people of Gee's Bend, Alabama, to the Civil Rights movement, and how the black citizens of Gee's Bend defied racial discrimination and overt repression by a white-controlled police and political system to cast votes in response to the passage of the National Voting Rights Act of 1965. After the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr., in 1968, Belle and Ada, mules of Gee's Bend, were used to pull a wagon bearing his coffin, leading a procession of 50,000 mourners. The story illustrates the tactics of passive resistance and group empowerment of the Civil Rights movement, and deals directly with creative responses to racial discrimination and overcoming barriers of injustice. Honor Book for Younger Children, 2012.


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