The story of Recy Taylor might not have known to many, but her memory was honored emphatically after Oprah Winfrey‘s rousing Golden Globes speech Sunday night. Taylor was a victim of a horrific kidnapping and sexual assault by a group of six white men who escaped justice simply due to the color of the skin.
The incident occurred on September 3, 1944 in Abbeville, Alabama when Taylor and a friend were walking home from church. A group of white men, one of them in the military, drew a gun and forced Taylor into their car. They drove to a patch of woods as six of the seven men raped her while Taylor pleaded for her life.
The kidnapping was reported by her friend and Taylor also came forth to detail the attack. Despite the driver of the car, Hugo Wilson, admitting he saw his six friends commit the assault, he was only fined $250 and the men he named faced neither charges nor fines.
The NAACP got involved and sent their best investigator and anti-rape activist Rosa Parks to the town to examine the facts. Her efforts lead to a trial in the city of Montgomery with lawyer and activist E.D. Nixon on Taylor’s legal team. Because the men were never charged, the only witnesses present were Taylor and her family and the all-white, all-male jury dismissed the matter. Another trial ended in the same fashion despite even more evidence and even confessions.
After the trial, the Taylor family which included her husband and her child, faced violence, death threats, and a firebombing of their home. Reportedly, the town sheriff also terrorized Taylor and her family. Benny Corbitt, a Taylor relative, commanded a post in a tree near her home at night armed with a shotgun to ward off would-be racist attackers.
The Taylors eventually moved from Alabama to Florida after enduring abuse and shame for two decades. A documentary about Taylor’s case, The Rape of Recy Taylor, debuted at the New York Film Festival last month. In 2011, the Alabama House of Representatives issued a formal apology for the injustices faced by Taylor and her loved ones.
PHOTO: Public Domain
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