Recy Taylor

Recy Taylor
Recy Taylor
Courtesy of The People's World/Daily Worker and Tamiment Library/Robert F. Wagner Labor Archives, New York University

Recy Taylor, from Abbeville, Alabama, was 24 years old when six armed, white men abducted and brutally raped her, as she was walking home from church on September 3, 1944. She was married and the mother of a three-year-old daughter. In the aftermath, Recy’s home was firebombed. She received multiple death threats, and relentless intimidation targeted towards her and her family. Nevertheless, she reported the crime and fought for justice for what had happened to her. Not surprisingly, there was no trial.

Rosa Parks, an activist with the N.A.A.C.P. in Montgomery, Alabama, went to assist with the investigation. She organized the Committee of Equal Justice for Mrs. Recy Taylor to petition the Alabama Governor to move forward with an investigation. The case was dismissed, by an all-white, all-male grand jury, not once, but twice. On February 14, 1945, the second of these grand juries refused to indict her rapists, even though one had actually confessed to the crime. I repeat, her rapist literally confessed.

In 2011, prompted by the publication of historian Danielle L. McGuire's book At the Dark 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, the Alabama Legislature issued a formal apology to Recy and passed a resolution admitting to the state’s failure to prosecute her attackers. Recy Taylor passed away on December 29, 2017. A film documenting her life and the rape was released in 2018 titled, The Rape of Recy Taylor.