If you were watching the Golden Globes last night, you may have heard Oprah Winfrey, during her acceptance speech of the Cecil B. DeMille Award, mention a woman she “thinks we should know” by the name of Recy Taylor. So who was she?
Recy Taylor (1919-2017) was an African American woman from Abbeville, Alabama who was abducted and raped by six white young men while on her way home from church in 1944. Racy’s rapists threatened her life should she ever identify them, but instead of remaining silent, she stood up and spoke out.
Inspired by the 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 by Danielle L. McGuire, Ms. Taylor’s story is being told in the upcoming documentary “The Rape of Recy Taylor”, by director, producer and writer Nancy Buirski (The Loving Story, Althea).
Here is the film’s synopsis:
Recy Taylor, a 24-year-old black mother and sharecropper, was gang raped by six white boys in 1944 Alabama. Common in Jim Crow South, few women spoke up in fear for their lives. Not Recy Taylor, who bravely identified her rapists. The NAACP sent its chief rape investigator Rosa Parks, who rallied support and triggered an unprecedented outcry for justice.
Our film exposes a legacy of physical abuse of black women and reveals Rosa Parks’ intimate role in Recy Taylor’s story. An attempted rape against Parks was but one inspiration for her ongoing work to find justice for countless women like Taylor. The 1955 bus boycott was an end result, not a beginning.
More and more women are now speaking up after rape. Our film tells the story of black women who spoke up when danger was greatest; it was their noble efforts to take back their bodies that led to the Montgomery Bus Boycott and movements that followed. The 2017 Global March by Women is linked to their courage. From sexual aggression on ‘40s southern streets to today’s college campuses and to the threatened right to choose, it is control of women’s bodies that powered the movement in Recy Taylor’s day and fuels our outrage today.
In a director’s statement Nancy Buirski shares, “Our hope is that ‘The Rape of Recy Taylor’ is a bullhorn – that it ignites others to tell this story, too, some who may be closer to the experience. Their stories will be deeper, resonate in new, revealing ways and attract more unconverted by their immediacy and authenticity. Those new to it will feel its utter commonality because of its human, truthful detail. We will have been honored to set the stage for the ongoing discussion and exposé of a story of rape in the Deep South.
Screenings across the country are being planned for 2018; follow on social media for updates.
Lead image via The Rape of Recy Taylor/Vimeo