(SL) – Recy Taylor died December 28th, 2017, 3 days before her 98th birthday but her story will forever live on as a staple example of the sexual abuse, rape and overall injustice that transcends as Oprah Winfrey said, every culture, geography, race, religion, politics or workplace.
In 1944, 24-year-old Recy Taylor and two friends were walking back from a late-night church service in Abbeville, Ala., when seven young white men in a car stopped them and threatened them with a gun. Taylor was abducted, blindfolded forced to enter the car, and the men drove off with her into the woods where they raped on her . They kept her for 4-5 hours and no one knows exactly what all they did to her, but it was horrific.
They warned her that if she said anything about it they would kill her.
“Some white boys took me out there and messed with me,” said Taylor in a 2011 NPR interview with journalist Michel Martin.
The brutal crime was eventually reported to the civil rights organisation, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP).
At least six of those men raped her (one claimed that he did not) and then dropped her off on the side of the road. Some say she walked home and told her father what happened. Others say her father found her. Her sister recalls that whatever they did to her, Recy never got pregnant again. The inside of her body was mutilated to a point where she would never have another child.
The Root reports, Taylor, married and a new mother, spoke out against her perpetrators, and the case was sent to a grand jury—twice. Civil rights icon Rosa Parks investigated the rape as part of her early work with the NAACP. Black newspapers in Northern states followed the case and helped to organize activism and protest within the black community. But even after two grand juries, Taylor’s attackers were never even indicted.
The BBC writes, one of Mrs Taylor’s attackers confessed to the crime but her attackers were never indicted by all-white, male grand juries, as a result of segregation and racial inequality.
The incident left Ms Taylor “afraid of living”, she told NPR in 2011. She stopped going out at night “’cause I was afraid that maybe something else might happen”.
Many incidents involving black victims went unpunished in the south of the United States at the time.
This was as a result of discriminatory legislation, collectively known as the “Jim Crow” laws, which segregated black people and white people in public spaces and strengthened discriminatory attitudes.
In recent years, interest in Mrs Taylor’s case has risen.
A book and a documentary – The Rape of Recy Taylor – have been released in the last few years.
In 2011, a formal apology to Mrs Taylor was made by the Alabama Legislature, calling the decision not to prosecute “morally abhorrent and repugnant.”