Who Was Recy Taylor?

Oprah told us in her Golden Globes speech that Recy Taylor is someone she thinks we should know, so who was she? At the end of her life, a hero for woman and a catalyst in the Civil Rights Movement, but it took a world of hurt to get there.

A 24-year-old wife and mother, Taylor was attacked and abducted by six white men on the night of September 3, 1944 walking home from church in Abbeville, Alabama, “raped and left blindfolded by the side of the road.”

Her attackers threatened to kill her if she ever told, but she went to the NAACP where a young activist named Rosa Parks was assigned to investigate her case. Parks helped organize a national campaign for justice for Taylor, igniting passion and outcry from the black community, but the case never went to trial. Even with a confession from one of the men, two all-white, all-male juries refused to indict, and Taylor never got the justice she deserved.

In 2010, 66 years after the barrage, historian Danielle L. McGuire published “At the End of the Street: Black Women, Rape, and Resistance – a New History of the Civil Rights Movement from Rosa Parks to the Rise of Black Power,” prompting an apology in 2011 to Mrs. Taylor from the Alabama Legislature for failing to prosecute her attackers.

Recy Taylor died in her sleep on December 28, only three weeks after the release of the documentary titled “The Rape of Recy Taylor.” Mrs. Taylor’s story and bravery speak for thousands of women whose stories have not been heard and who have endured the pain and suffering of male oppression before #MeToo.

~ Sydney Shuler

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